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Harvard College
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Edited by Rev. J. Wilhelm, D.D., Ph.D.
Joint Avtlior of the Manual of Catholic Tlitology.
By L'Abbk jAcquiHK. Vol. I. St Paul and his Epistles.
Authorised translation from the 6th French Edition, bj Rev.
James Duooam. Price 7s. 6d.
By L'Abbk ,l.\< <,i n;ii. Vol. II. The Synoptic Gospels. Autho*
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[In preparation.
With a Preface by Mor. Pechenard, Rector of the Catholic
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PROTESTANTISM. By Alfred Baudrillart, Rector of the
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Sizerakke. Authorised translation by L. M. Liooatt. With
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VI. SURSUM CORDA. Letters of the Counti'ss de Saint-Martial,
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Professor at the Catholic University of Lille. Translated by M. D.
Authorised translation by A. H. Mathxw.
X. THE FINDING OF THE CROSS. Historical Researches by
Louis de Combes. Authorised translation by Luiui Cappadelta.
Price 6s.
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Edited by Rev. J. Wilhelm, D.D., Ph.D.
Nihil obstat
Censor dcputatus
Imprimi potest
Episcopus ArindeUnsis
Vicarius Gentralis .
die ii Martii 1907
The Catholic Church
C M H b % , *| , l3>
( %l? 28 1922 J ,,
Letter from H. E. Cardinal Perraud xvii
Preface ....... xxm
What is the Renaissance, and in what particulars is it
opposed to the spirit of Christianity ?In Italy
Extreme importance of the double movement of the Renais
sance and the ReformationAttitude of the Catholic
ChurchHistorical and actual problems
Definition of the RenaissanceIn what way it is a revival
Return to antiquity, nature, and rationalismWhence
this return to antiquity How the Italians of the
fifteenth century were ready for an intellectual re
volutionThe man of the Renaissance .
Political anarchy in ItalyTyrannyAgnello of PisaThe
ViscontiFrancesco SforzaThe dynasty of Naples
TyrannicideWithout legitimacyRemarkable person
alities Excess of individualism Demoralisation
Italians ripe for influence of ancient and pagan spirit .
The awakening of antiquity in ItalyArt : Brunelleschi
Michelet and the Leonardo da Vincis in the Louvre
Return to ancient literaturePetrarchHumanists
Vittorino da FeltreMecsenasPretensions and exalted
favours of humanistsTheir fallTheir work : general
Latinisation of cultureThe return to the classics was
not in itself contrary to the spirit of ChristianityNor
was the return to natureThe same cannot be said
of the return to the spirit of the ancients
Fundamental difference between this spirit and the Christian
spiritChristian and pagan idea of lifeDeification of
natureSequere naturam : different meanings of this
phraseRabelais Lorenzo Valla Beccadelli Reha
bilitation of pride and sensualityPractical and doctrinal
opposition made to ChristianityMarsilio Ficino and
Pomponius LaetusPoggioAttacks on the part of
paganising humanists against the Christian ideal,
against priests and monks Breadth and depth of this
action of pagan humanismContrasts in ItalyThe
avowals of Machiavelli and BenvenutoIncredulity,
immorality, superstitionMichelet and TaineHow
the Church favoured such a movement . . .14
Characteristics of the Renaissance in France, England, and
GermanyThe extent of its connection in these coun
tries with the Protestant movement . . .25
Humanism in Europe : its religious and moral influence
Why it was only studied in France, England, and Ger
manyHow and why the humanist movement and
religious reformation were confounded in these countries,
although contradictory in appearance . . .25
Questions of date : chronological coincidence between the
two movementsOutside Italy antiquity is merely an
importation, and consequently has less influenceIt
does not destroy the national characteristics of art or of
literatureGerman art in the early sixteenth century
French art of the Renaissance under Charles VIII.
and Louis XII. Superficial influence of Rosso and
PrimaticcioSimilarly in literature, the national genius
absorbs outside influencesThe masses are not affected
by humanismThe social organisation of France takes
no notice of itFinally, in the moral order, France,
Germany, and England are less influenced than Italy
This is why the Renaissance does not induce a return to
paganism ...... 26
The Renaissance and the religious movement in Germany
Christian humanistsWimphelingRodolphus Agricola
PedagoguesAlexander HeginsThe part taken by
the UniversitiesThe humanists or poets of Erfurt
The early humanists wish for a moderate religious re
formationNew humanismErasmusHumanists of
ErfurtReuchlin's quarrelGermany divided into two
camps Luther's humanist partisans . . .31
The Renaissance and the religious movement in England
Relations with ItalyGrocyn, Linacre, Colet, More
Coterie at Oxford and its religious inspirationSaint
Paul's School, LondonHenry VIII. patron of the
humanistsHe deceives their hopes . . .38
The Renaissance and the religious movement in France
France taught by her neighbours : Italy, Netherlands,
Germany Revival of classical studies College of
FrancePublication of textsLibraries and men of
lettersLiterary circlesTransformation of secondary
studiesLively reaction against scholasticsRabelais
ridicules the doctors of the SorbonneReaction against
the ideas of the preceding age RamusRabelais
Etienne DoletBonaventure des PeriersProtestantising
humanists Lefevre d'Etaples Bishop of Meaux,
Briconnet Marguerite de Navarre Their limits
Renaissance appeared reconcilable with Christian spirit
in the countries of Germany, England, and France . 40
Why, and to what extent, did the Papacy, and often the
Episcopate, favour the movement of the Renaissance ? . 51
Unhappy results of humanism foreseen from the sixteenth
century Evidence of Alberto of Carpi, Erasmus,
Constable of MontmorencyChief dignitaries and heads
of the Church held responsible by manyHow far is
this accusation true ? . . . . .51
Patronage granted by the Popes to humanism Innocent
VII. and the Roman UniversityHumanists at the
Pontifical CourtMartin V. and the Council of Con
stanceEmmanuel Chrysoloras, Leonardo Bruni, Poggio,
Vergerio, etc. Eugenius IV. Flavius Blondus
Humanist cardinalsA humanist Pope : Nicholas V
The Vatican LibraryNicholas V7. wished Rome, the
centre of religion, to be also the centre of arts and
literatureEven in the early days of humanism it was
excessively patronised by the Papacy . . . 58-56
Immorality of certain humanists admitted at the Pontifical
Court, and helped by the PopesReaction sets in with
the pontificate of Calixtus III. Pius II. sees and com
bats the danger of pagan RenaissanceThe conflict
reaches its height under Paul II. PlatinaPomponius
I .at us and the Roman AcademyConspiracy of 1 468
Measures taken by Paul II. Under Sixtus IV. the
Papacy patronises humanists again, even the least
ChristianLeo X. Incomparable splendour of Rome
Clement VII. and the siege of Rome . . .58
Episcopal courts in Germany, England, and FranceCardinal
Nicolas de CuseThe Archbishop of MainzArchbishop
of Canterbury, WarhamCardinal WolseyBishop of
Paris, Etienne PoucherCharles, Cardinal of Lorraine
Jean du Bellay .... 66
ConclusionThe episcopate of different nations need not be
taken into considerationThe question of the Papacy
is more seriousEpochs to be distinguished At first the
danger is latentPersonal digressions, contradictions,
hypocrisy of certain humanists, but no formal heresy
When the evil becomes evident the Popes decide to act
The reaction fails, and the Papacy is again led away
But even then it does not forget its doctrinal authority
Leo X. and Lateran CouncilsAfter the siege of Rome
the Papacy asserts itselfWhy it fought more vigor
ously against the Protestant Reformation than against
humanismThe Popes were not responsible for the
demoralisation of Italy Advantage gained by the
Church in patronising humanism and the Renaissance
External splendour of the Church and her role as
civiliser Attitude of the Church in face of great in
tellectual movements Excesses which accompany
intellectual, social, and political transformationsUnion
of progress with science and faithSolution of the great
problems as sought by the RenaissanceRelation to
our own days . . . . .68
The birth of Protestantism in GermanyWhy and how
several European nations became Protestant . . 78
Gravity of the Protestant crisis and of the religious split
which it produced in the midst of ChristendomDan
gers that the Catholic Church still incurs from Pro
testantismThe impartial spirit and the charity with
which the Protestant question must be approached . 78
Protestant theories on the origin of the Reformation : revolt
of conscience against the corruption of the Roman
ChurchFalsity of this thesisMany of the causes
which explain the Protestant revolution in different
countriesIt is true that the Catholic Church needed
reformCauses of the crisis which occurred : strife be
tween the civil and ecclesiastical powers in the four
teenth century, the western schism and its deplorable
consequencesWhy the fifteenth century did not see
Catholic reformMusulman invasionDiscord in Italy
Splendour of the RenaissanceTentative efforts in
favour of the reformProphecy of Cardinal Cesarini . 81
Why the Protestant crisis breaks out in GermanyPolitical
and social state of this country at the beginning of the
sixteenth centuryGerms of revolutionWhy this re
volution assumed a religious characterTriple move
ment : religious, intellectual, and national ; mystics,
humanists, knightsHatred against Rome . . 87
One man, Luther, embodies all these revolutionary elements
Whence arose Luther's powerThe soul of Luther
and German geniusViolent and brutal side : polemics
of LutherSentimental and mystical sideSuccessive
defeat of all the causes which primarily had been con
founded with the religious revolutionHeresy only
existed by the help of princes, the organisation of
churches, and the education of children . . 93
Similar causes of the triumph of Protestantism in other Euro
pean states, but nowhere a decisive reason for separation
from RomeHelped by public power, the Reformation
gained the victoryExamples of England, Sweden,
Denmark, SwitzerlandConclusion . . .98
How and why France remained Catholic .107
How important it was for future Catholicism that France
should remain CatholicThe nation declared in favour
of Catholicism . . . . .107
Why France remained Catholic The triple movement
(religious, intellectual, national) found in Germany,
exists also in FranceState of the French Church
Gallicanism and mistrust towards RomeThis mistrust
shows itselfduring the LeagueCalvinThe first French
ProtestantsJustification by faith aloneSeduction of
martyrdomThe role of the nobility in the French
ReformationTheir greedWhy Protestants remained
in the minorityNational characteristics which opposed
the spirit of the ReformationHumanism reconciled
with the ChurchFrance always wished a certain degree
of union with RomeConcordat of 151 6 and its import
ance It gave the royal power the desired satisfaction,
and a national character to the Gallican ChurchMany
of those who at the first were inclined to the new ideas
did not wish to separate from the Church . 1 09
Catholicism seemed to possess all the constitutional strength
of the nationYet these forces failed in their task
Royalty, vacillation of Francis I.Violence of Henry II.
and his followersCatherine de Medici : her political
ruses; the Saint BartholomewHenry III., the Pro
testant kingThe Church : the Valois make a selection
of undesirable or suspected bishops in virtue of the
Concordat Political bishops The majority of the
episcopate recognise Henry IV. before his conversion
Opposition caused by this attitude of the bishops
Civil magistrates and parliament Part played by
1' HospitalThe Duke of Alencon and politicsThe
Guises Catholics lose the fruit of their victories
Protestant minority vigorously organisedThey form a
state in the State ; they have men and resources, and
are dismayed at nothing ; their vandalism ; political
assassination ; civil war ; their treaties abroad ; the
difference between their alliances and that of the
Leaguers with Spain ; their fanaticism . . 119-129
Formation of Catholic party and opinionR6le of the Jesuits
and CapuchinsCatholic preachingThe first unions
The LeagueLawfulness of resistance opposed to Henry
IV.Siege of ParisJudgment on the Satyre Menippee
Necessity of ending civil war . . . 1 33
Conversion of Henry IV. the only way of ending war and
rehabilitating FranceMany understand thisAttitude
of Pope Sixtus V States-General, 1593; calumniated;
good Catholics and good FrenchmenHenry IV. yields
to the national willHis abjurationAbsolved by the
PopeEra of power and greatness for France . .143
How did the Catholic Church defend herself against Pro
testantism ?The characteristics of her own reformation 152
Paris in 1 534 : Calvin, Rabelais, Saint Ignatius of LoyolaThe
Catholic Church pulls itself togetherReligious and in
tellectual movements at the beginning of the century
True mysticism and true reformThe Church opposes
authority to free inquiryDefinitions of the Council of
TrentRoman InquisitionIndexReaction against
individualismSacrifice in religious ordersOpposition
to religious orders under Paul III.Reform and creation
of religious ordersCapuchinsCarmelitesJesuits
Jesuit obedience . . . . .152
Necessity of sanctificationDefinition of justification by the
Council of TrentIn what true sanctity consists
Harvest of saintsItalian mysticismSaint Philip Neri
Spanish mysticismSaint Ignatius and the Exercises
Saint Theresa and the Way of PerfectionMysticism
leading to actionMysticism within bounds . .163
The action in Catholic Church of the sixteenth century
Catholic reforming partyOpening of the Council of
Trent ; confession and promises Reforms End of
councilsThe work accomplishedGood choice of car
dinalsGood PopesJudgment of von Ranke on the
Popes of the second half of the sixteenth century
Saint Charles BorromeusInstitution of seminaries
Ecclesiastical congregations : the TheatinsOratory
Other congregationsIntellectual and artistic revival
in the Catholic Church . . . . .171
Conclusion The Church as conquerorIn Europe she re
ceives back many districts from the ProtestantsCon
quests of the Church in America and Asia . 1 80
On the use of force by the Catholic Church against Protes
tantsThe Inquisition in Italy and in SpainReligious
warsProtestant intolerance . . . .182
Delicate and painful side to this questionUneasiness it
causes contemporary minds Reason of the repugnance
felt for the interference by civil authorityNecessity of
going far back to understand thisAnalogies drawn
from social order by means of which Mgr. d'Hulst
explains The right of the ChurchAbuses State
invoked by the Church as defender of the social order . 182
The Protestants of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
agree on this subject with CatholicsOpinion of Luther
after 1 529Opinion of Melanchthon ; of Calvin ; of
Theodore de Beza; of Bullinger; of FarelDoctrine
contained in Protestant Confessions of FaithOpinion
of Iurien in the seventeenth centurySame theory as
Catholics on the rights of State when social order is
compromised by a religious doctrineCalvin and dedi
cation in the Christian Institution . . J 89
Inquisition and the Protestants of SpainLetters of Charles
V Ordinances of Philip II. Inquisitor Valdes
Five autos da fe of 1559-1560Tortures inflicted on
English heretics under Mary Tudor Execution of
Rowland TaylorReligious wars in Franceletters of
Saint Pius V. to Catherine de Medici and Charles IX.
The Popes and the massacre of Saint Bartholomew . 1 94
Same practices on the part of ProtestantsExamples in
Bern and GenevaIntolerance in Sweden, Denmark,
and HollandCatholic persecution in EnglandTor
tures of reign of Elizabeth Cuthbert Maine The
Jesuit campaignCatholic martyrology in England in
the seventeenth centuryLong persecution of Irish
Horrors of the Thirty Years' War Massacres by
Cromwell in IrelandFranciscans of GorkumProtes
tant violence in France before the religious wars
Massacres in different towns The Michelade Ex
quisite tortures ...... 206
Results of this violenceMoral and religious characteristics
of the Catholic restoration . . . .221
Has Protestantism been, as stated, more favourable than
Catholicism to moral and spiritual progress ? . . 223
Question put by the Institute of France in 1802Essay by
Charles Villers on the spirit and influence of Luther's re
formationNapoleon Roussel's book on the comparison
between Catholic and Protestant nationsArticle by
M. de Laveleye on the future of Catholic nationsRe
futed by Catholics : Balmis, Auguste Nicolas, the Abbe
Martin, Pere Flamerion, Doellinger, Janssen, Goyan
Obstinacy of error ..... 223
Opinion of M. de Laveleye on the immorality of French
literatureWhy, according to him, French writers have
exalted the Renaissance at the expense of the Reforma
tionDecrease of religious feeling among Catholic
peopleCatholic literature is not less moral than Pro
testant ....... 228
How Luther's doctrine on works had for result an excess of
immorality and irreligionEvidence of Erasmus ; of
Georges Wizel ; of Willibald Pirkheimer ; of Ulrich
Zasius; of Amsdorf ; of Christopher Fischer; of Jacob
Andrese ; of Capito ; of Bucer ; of Melanchthon ; of
Luther himselfBigamy of the Landgrave of Hesse,
authorised by the leaders of Protestantism . 232
The moral and religious state of Protestant people is not in
our own days superior to that of CatholicsProtestant
GermanyImpiety of BerlinMiddle classesPopular
socialistic masses Country Mecklemburg, Bruns
wick, Thuringia, etc., as examplesOpinion of the
Bishop of Osnabriick on the state of Protestantism in
the northern districtsComparison between Catholic
and Protestant Germany from the points of view of
birth-rate, divorces, suicides, crimeStatisticsSuperi
ority of Catholics in nearly every respectReligion is
not the only factor in moralityMorality and religious
feeling among Anglo-SaxonsEnglish cantHow Puri
tanism lasted, and the reaction which followed itThe
population of LondonUnited States of America
Worship of money Depravity of large townsDivorces
Comparison between Catholic and Protestant countries
Statistics, birth-rate, divorces, suicides, and crime
The high morality of Protestant countries is a fable 248
Moral and religious life of Protestants: causes Reaction
against the doctrine of uselessness of worksProtestant
works in the nineteenth centuryMysticismReading
the BibleGood faithInfluence of educationFor
tunate contradictions . . . . .261
What have been the intellectual and doctrinal consequences
of Protestantism ?Has Protestantism been more fav
ourable than Catholicism to the intellectual progress of
Christian nations?..... 265
Luther has the reputation of having furthered intellectual
progress Pretended intellectual superiority of ProTABLE
testant nationsThis superiority is not evident in any
branch of human knowledgeThe comparison confined
to Germany ...... 265
Luther on reasonWhat he thinks of free thoughtCensure
of books among ProtestantsHumanism promptly turns
against the ^SnaissanceDecadence of biblical study
after LutherDecadence of classical studyInvectives
of Luther against the UniversitiesDecadence of pat
riotic studiesWritings of Luther considered sufficient
for everythingDecadence of historical studyInter
vention of the devil accounts for muchDecadence of
philosophical and theological studiesLutheran scholas
ticism Decadence of various kinds of literature
Grossness of satires and pamphlets, of religious drama,
of popular talesHorrible and wonderful literature
Witches and their fate ..... 267
Return of reason to ProtestantismDawn and progress of
Herder Eichorn Kant Hegel Schleiermacher
RitschlHarnack's opinion on this evolution . 28 1
Denial of all definite dogma and the idea even of religious
truth Religious truth made by believersThis idea
invades the dominion of exegesis and religious history
Parallel between Schleiermacher, Strauss, and Baur
The Scriptures lose all doctrinal authorityExegesis
and history according to preconceived philosophical
ideasReuss, Wellhausen, Stade, Harnack, and their
followersChrist made an unknown godDouble truth
of German Protestants: one for teachers, one for the
taughtVoluntary equivocations Protests of certain
Protestant authorities The University Popes The
State maintains the exterior unity of the Church
Protestantism tends to free thoughtInfluence on many
CatholicsThe French mind repudiates these equi
vocations ...... 290
Has Protestantism been more favourable than Catholicism
to the social and political progress of modern nations ? 298
Three nations, mainly Protestant, are in the first rank
Defeats of France and Spain M. de Laveleye
and his followers attribute the difference of power
and activity to difference of cultOdious comparison
between England and IrelandNumerous causes which
conduce to greatness in nationsBesides, France and
Spain were much more powerful when they were
CatholicTheir decadence partly due to the influence
of the sects . . . . .298
What does liberty owe to Protestantism ?Liberty of con
science^Tyranny of the State in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries Cwsaropapism Interference
of modern State in religious questions . . 302
Protestantism and individual libertySerfdom in Mecklembourg,
in Pomerania, in Prussia, in ScandinaviaCal
vinism less hostile than Lutheranism to liberty . . 308
Protestantism and political libertyThe Middle Ages were
not a time of political slaveryAbsolutism of princes
everywhere strengthened by Protestantism In those
countries where political freedom existed it originated
from other causes than Protestantism Examples :
England, United States, Holland, Switzerland . 310
Protestantism and material prosperity of nationsStrange
theory of Napoleon Roussel Wealth and Christian
spiritThe other side of the questionDiversity of
causes of wealth and economic power of a nation
Religion cannot annul climatic or geographical effects
Comparison drawn by M. de Laveleye between Pro
testant and Catholic cantons in SwitzerlandWhere this
comparison is at fault . . . . .317
ConclusionGoal aimed at by certain Protestants in France
War made on Catholicism Duties of Catholics and
the need of resistanceAppeal to believing Protestants
of good faith . . . . . .323
Autun, 15th April 1904.
My Dear Friend,
You are about to publish the lectures
which you gave last winter in the hall of the rue
(FAssas on "The Catholic Church, the Renaissance,
and the Reformation." They are a summary, in
three series of lectures, containing the essence of
what you have already taught the students of the
Catholic Institute, but they go deeper into your
subject, and open up new fields of inquiry by the
use of more abundant materials.
You will bear me out when I say that you did
not easily obtain my promise to write a few lines
destined to appear at the beginning of your book.
Modesty is no doubt very praiseworthy, but I think
you have allowed it to carry you too far. It seemed
to me unnecessary to introduce to the public, as if he
were a stranger, a historian to whom the French
Academy has twice decreed the highest of its re
wards, the grand prix Gobei%, and a professor who,
in the performance of his duties, has brought so much
honour to the Catholic Institute of Paris.
However, you repeated your request so persistb
2 xix
ently that I had to acknowledge myself vanquished,
though not convinced, and in spite of my reluctance
I consent, in the words of an old proverb, " to carry
water to the river." Who, indeed, needs my assur
ance of the painstaking preparation you make for
your works, whether written or delivered by word of
mouth ? In this respect you have remained faithful to
our old and cherished Normal School methods, with
which I was familiar thirty years before you in that
house in the rue cCUlm, of which the original purpose
and constitution has unfortunately been utterly
changed lately, despite the survival of its official title.
A brief acquaintance with your works is sufficient
to convince your readers or audience of your scrupu
lous care in making it your duty to go always to
original sources of information, and that you contemn
those careless methods of research which consist in
borrowing conclusions ready made, save for some
slight modification of form, from second-hand authors.
Another merit of your work is that you have
known how to acknowledge certain faults with
absolute sincerity in those with whom we, as Catho
lics, claim fellowship, and to accord due justice to
our adversaries.
Thus in your first most interesting lessons on the
Renaissancewhich, by the way, taught me many
things that I did not know, or recalled things which
[ had forgottenhaving praised those Popes of the
fifteenth century who were not afraid to encourage
scholars, and to restore classical letters and the
treasures of antiquity to their place of honour, you
pointed out that at least two of them, exceeding the
bounds of intellectual liberalism, gave their confidence
to, and even lavished marks of favour upon, certain
humanists who, without the least scruple, extolled in
their writings the fundamental maxim of epicurean
epics : Sequere naturam.
You have just put into practice the brave and
noble advice given by Leo XIII. to those who, like
you, have the honour of teaching ecclesiastical history.
Having reminded them of this saying in the book of
Job : " Hath God any need of your lie ? " 1 the great
Pope adds these lines, and it gives me pleasure to
apply them to you :
" The historian of the Church will be strong in
proportion as he insists upon her divine origin, which
is superior to every concept of a merely worldly and
natural institution, and the more loyal he is in dis
sembling none of those trials to which the faults of her
children, and sometimes even of her ministers, have
subjected the Spouse of Christ in the course of cen
turies. When studied thus, the history of the Church
constitutes in itself a splendid and conclusive demon
stration of the truth and divinity of Christianity."2
1 Job, chap. xiii. ver. 7.
2 Encyclical to the French clergy, 8th September 1 899.
The impartiality, of which you give such con
vincing proofs, especially in your treatment of the
delicate and difficult question of the Inquisition, has
equipped you well for the study and appreciation of
the causes, developments, and results of that great
religious crisis of modem times known as the Pro
testant Reformation.
You have been pleased to recall that I myself,
long before you,1 devoted eight years of public teach
ing in the Sorbonne to the study of this event,
bringing to bear thereon the triple light of theology,
history, and the Fathers. I willingly accept the
thanks you offer me for having lent you the numerous
notes which I collected during that most laborious
period of my priesthood ; and for my part I con
gratulate you on having made such good use of
them. And yet you have by no means let them
hamper you, for you have entirely preserved the
freedom of your plan, your explanations, and your
I shall not undertake an analysis of the lectures in
which you have summarised the problems of philo
sophy, theology, morals, and even of social economy,
involved in the study of Protestantism, which will
soon have lived for four centuries.
How will they justify the exalted and almost
prophetic views of the immortal author of UHistoire
1 From 1866 to 1874.
des Variations and the Avertissements aux Protes
tants'1. How pleased Bossuet would have been to
read your works and to know how thoroughly you
bear him out in his showing " how the general founda
tions laid by the Reformationnamely, contempt
for the authority of the Church, the denial of the
Apostolic succession, the indictment of the preceding
centuries, and even the contempt of the Fathers, the
bursting of every barrier, and the complete abandon
ment of human curiosity to its own devicesmust
inevitably' produce what we have seennamely, un
bridled licence in all religious matters." x
Moreover, it seems to me that this great Bishop,
who was so clear-sighted in denouncing the attacks
made by a rash critic against the very foundations of
our faiththe similarity of which attacks to the
heresies of Socinius and Calvin he found small diffi
culty in showing2would have highly approved of
what you have said, or rather what you have implied
by means of allusion, discreet but well enough under
stood by your audience in the rue dAssas, concerning
the strange and perilous experiments in exegesis
and apologetics which are applied nowadays to the
understanding of the holy Gospels and to the ex
planation of the establishment of Christianity in the
world by scholars who still think themselves Catholics,
1 Histoire des Variations, Book XV.
2 Defense de la Tradition et des Saints Peres.
but who seem unaware of the logical bonds con
necting their hypercriticism with certain of the early
theories of the reformers.
You could not have spoken more truthfully than
in the decisive argument which forms the conclusion
of your work. I borrow it almost word for word :
" If you believe that dogma is subject to change ;
that religious knowledge is purely subjective and
symbolical ; that it is subject to every contingency,
both present and future, of private interpretation ;
then you are no longer a Christian." *
Accept, my dear friend, the renewed assurance of
my most affectionate devotion in Our Lord.
+ Adolphe-Louis-Albert, Card. Perraud,
Bishop of Autun.
1 Page 326 infra.
I beg now to offer to the public the result of much
reading, research, and reflection on the subject of
those questions which I began to study long ago.
It first came in my way to examine them closely at
the Normal School twenty-four years ago whilst
attending the lectures of M. Gabriel Monod. Some
people will be astonished, perhaps, to see this name
at the beginning of a work of Catholic apologetics.
I owe it to justice, even more than to gratitude,
to affirm that I have seldom heard more impartial
teaching. If the later personal studies which I have
been able to make have brought me to appreciate
certain tendencies and facts in a manner very different
from that of my instructor, they have also proved to
me that the facts as presented were always such
as the documents set forth. An example to ponder
over, now that, alas, history, after a too short period
of independent research, seems to have become again
a weapon in party hands, rather than the matter of
calm objective science.
Fifteen years later, when I was entrusted with the
teaching of ecclesiastical history at the Catholic In
stitute of Paris, another course of lectures became
known to me ; it was that which Father Adolphe
Perraud, now a Cardinal, had taught at the Sorbonne
from 1866 to 1874. One must have had these lessons
and all their scientific apparel in one's hands, as I
have had, in order to realise what a spoliation of
texts, accumulation of researches, and gradual for
mation of personal views in the light of original
documents they represent. When I asked the Bishop
of Autun to be so good as to endorse these lectures
in some sort with his very high authority, I was only
recognising their indebtedness to him. It gives me
great pleasure to thank him publicly.
During ten years I have thrice taught the history
of the Renaissance and the Reformation, and I have
been forced to keep always up to date. Of selections
from text-books, pamphlets, treatises, or articles, I
have read or consulted all that seemed likely to cast
some true light on a subject which will doubtless
never be quite exhausted. Moreover, when the
Catholic Institute confided to me a part of the
recently founded apologetic instruction, I chose for
preference an epoch in which I thought I was already
well qualified. The welcome given to my lectures
by a numerous and sympathetic audience encourages
me to publish them, a thing I had at first no thought
of doing. I add to them a study, slightly modified,
which appeared eight years ago in La France
chretienne dans Vhistoire, published by Didot. It
formed the necessary complement to this volume.
There will be found in these studies the trace of
ideas put into circulation by certain great works
which are, or should be, classics among Catholics :
that of Pastor upon the History of the Popes from
the end of the Middle Ages ; next to which I shall cite
the short but excellent work of M. Guirand on the
Church and the Origin of the Renaissance ; the six
volumes of Mgr. Janssen on Germany and the Refor
mation, completed and renewed by Evers in his Los
von Rom, and by P. Denifle in Luther and Luthcrdom
; those of Du Boys and of Dom Gasquet on the
Origin of the English Reformation ; of M. de Meaux
on the Religious Struggles of our Country, and
French Politics in regard to Protestantism. For the
present period, the important book of the Abbe
Martin on the Future of Protestantism and Catho
licism ; the suggestive and learned inquiry of M.
Georges Goyan on Religious Germany ; the studies
of M. Thureau-Daugin and P. Bremond on the
Religious History of England in the Nineteenth
Century. I mention herewithout the smallest pre
tension to draw up a bibliographyonly those Catho
lic works of a general character which are accessible
to educated readers who are, however, not students
by profession.
After much hesitation I decided not to load these
lectures with notes : I thought it better to preserve
xxviii PREFACE
the quite popular character of the work, and not to
tire any readers it might attract by numerous refer
ences to the foot of the page. Nearly all the critics
who have been kind enough to mention my book
have regretted my resolve ; I yield, therefore, in this
new edition, to their wish. It will be understood,
however, that it is not possible for me to give here a
bibliography of original sources of reference ; that
would mean work unending. I shall content myself,
therefore, with indicating at the beginning of each
chapter the principal second-hand works of reference
which may be consulted by those who wish to do so ;
they will find in these all the bibliographical infor
mation that is necessary or useful.
I do not fear the avowal that my lectures are
apologetic in their aim ; the most competent judges
have been pleased to recognise that this detracts
nothing from their scientific value, and that my
point of view has not affected my impartiality.
I have never had a liking for evasion, nor for
what it is agreed to call pious deceptions. The
Catholic Church needs only the truth, and is strong
enough to bear the whole truth.
May these pages, then, do some good, and en
lighten those prejudiced but conscientious minds
who do not disdain to make use of them !
A. B.
What is the Renaissance, and in what particulars is it
opposed to the spirit of Christianity in Italy ? *
Since the rise of Christianity there has been no
greater and no more important European revolution
in the history of ideas than what in the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries wrested a large number of souls
from the Catholic Church, leading some to ancient
rationalism and drawing others to a wholly indi
vidualistic conception of the Christian life, founded
upon free inquiry. This twofold movement, which
has been continuous throughout modern times, bears
the names of the Renaissance and the Reformation.
We have deemed it of interest to study in these
1 On this subject may be consulted : Ch. Blanc, Hisloire de la
Renaissance en Italic. Paris, 1889. Burckhardt, La civilisation en
Italie au temps de la Renaissance, trans. Schmitt. Paris, 1885.
Gebhart, Les Origines de la Renaissance en Italie. Paris, 1879. La
Renaissance italienne et la philosophic de Fhistoire. Paris, 1887.
L' Italie mystique. Paris, 1893. Guirand, L'Eglise el les Origines de
la Renaissance. Paris, 1902. Mancini, Vita di Lorenzo Valla.
Florence, 1891. De Nolhac, Petrarque et thumanisme. Paris, 1892.
Pastor, History of the Popes from the close of the Middle Ages.
English trans, published by Messrs Kegan Paul & Co. Thureau-
Dangin, St Bernardin de Sienne. Paris, 1895. Voigt, Die Wiederbelebung
des classischen Alterthums oder das erste Jahrhundert des
Humanismus. Berlin, 1880-1881.
apologetic lectures the attitude of the Church in
the presence of these two movements. This widely
variant attitude has provoked against her, as we well
know, two accusations of very different kinds. She
has been reproached, on the one hand, with extending
undue favour towards the less Christian of the two
movements, even to the extent of allowing herself to
join it in some measure, and so taint herself. Towards
the more Christian, on the other hand, she is accused
of being unduly harsh ; of knowing too little of that
deep inner religious consciousness, which was, her
accusers say, the true Christianity ; which alone could
quicken the Christian religion after the decadence of
the dying Middle Ages.
This is a historical problem of the highest interest ;
yet a problem not exclusively historical, for we are
still in the presence of the spirit of the Renaissance
and the spirit of the Reformation. They are currents
that ever unite, and to this day they make common
cause against the Catholic Church. They seem
opposed, yet they have a common source : autonomy,
or, if you will, the absolute independence of individual
What is the Renaissance ? and in what particulars
is it opposed to the spirit of Christianity ? This is
the question I wish to study with you to-day. And
I shall draw your attention first to Italy, for it was
there that this movement took rise. Has it not been
well said that " in Europe, the Italian was the first
modern man " ?
What does the word Renaissance awaken in us ?
Foremost, the thought of one of the most brilliant
epochs in the intellectual and artistic history of man.
Abandoning the resources of the Middle Ages, rich
with Christian sentiment and chivalry, men applied
themselves chiefly to the study of antiquity, its works
of art and intellect. In every branch of culture
they were engrossed in the copying of classic models,
so that indeed the Renaissance seems at first a new
birth of antiquity. It has been called also the re
birth of the human mind, for the germs of ideas
which were to renovate science, social and political
order, and, in a certain degree, even the doctrines and
beliefs of the preceding age, were acquired in the
study of the ancients. Many sought in antiquity the
governing principles of their opinions and actions,
but above all they borrowed from the ancients that
great energising force, that great lever of their in
tellects, the exclusive use of reason, the observance
of natural phenomena alone ; and in virtue of this,
that return to the past was the dayspring of a new
era, the very origin of unlimited progress. Moreover,
by means of antiquity, nature and reason, which have
now become queens and mistresses of modern times,
were rediscovered. Such is the Renaissance in its
widest sense, as illustrated by Michelet and Burckhardt
with their well-known antichristian enthusiasm.
But what was the reason for this reversion which
was directed so exclusively towards antiquity and its
principles? For so general a movement and such
extreme consequences ? Already, in preceding cen
turiesthe ninth, twelfth, and fourteenthmen had
been face to face with the classical Renaissance, and
it had never produced such effects. Why did it pro
duce them in the fifteenth ? Why, in the sixteenth,
did it lead to the separation of so many souls from
the Church ?
It is indeed difficult to solve such a problem,
especially in few words; for to answer these ques
tions one must probe to the very heart of society, dig
to the very well-springs of minds ; and what docu
ments are capable of laying bare the very foundation
of a society and of the minds of a given epoch ? Yet
a minute study of this epoch discloses the fact that
the political and social condition of Italy in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries produced, at least
among Italians of the higher classes, a psychological
and moral state singularly appropriate to the com
prehension and reception of the lessons of antiquity.
Now, the moment the Italians were ready for these
lessons, antiquity was presented to them in all its
forms : in arts, literature, and philosophy : the genius
of antiquity met with, and fertilised, the genius of
Italy. Thence was born the man of the Renaissance,
who, through the gradual loss of faith and morals,
ceased to be Christian ; this I shall endeavour to
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, all
connection was definitely broken in Italy between
the two great universal powers which, in the Middle
Ages, had been at once her glory, and, in some
measure, a guarantee to her of a law-abiding social
order: I mean the Empire and the Papacy.
The Empire fell in 1250, and, though restored in
Germany, exerted but a secondary and ephemeral
influence in the peninsula. In 1305 the Papacy
established itself in France for a long period, leaving
Italy to herself. It was an era of atrocious civil wars,
of bloody conflict of parties, of local tyrannies, and
the travesty of lawful sovereignty.
The monarchy which Frederick II. had lately
realised in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, served
as the model on which the little Italian princes strove
to form their state. In the Italy of the fourteenth
century there was not a single legitimate power. It
is important to establish this thoroughly.1
The tyrant, as well as the different parties disput
ing power, employed force and cunning without the
shadow of a scruple ; first to obtain and then to
retain their rule, tyrants and parties did not hesitate
to ruin, exile, or exterminate those who embarrassed
them. When they had become masters they pos
sessed a power absolute though precarious, an omni
potence ephemeral and frail. They thirsted for
possession ; for possession immediate and as compre
hensive as possible, since they must hold possession
under the malignant eyes of jealous enemies and of
conspirators. It is inevitable that those who wiehd
power under these conditions should be tyrants in
the worst acceptation of the word.
How various are the types of these tyrants in the
Italy of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries ! Con
sider Agnello of Pisa at the zenith of pride and
exaltation ; he rides through the streets bearing a
golden sceptre ; he exhibits himself " comvie des
reliques " at his palace window, reclining on rugs and
cushions of gold brocade ; he exacts the mode and
address proper to the Pope and to the Emperor,
and he requires to be served kneeling.2
Other tyrants with wider power, though not less
unworthy, seem to make a better impression. Such
are the Viscontis of Milan, a family which governed
in the midst of horrible tragedies, almost ceaseless
1 Consult Burckhardt, La civilisation en Italic au temps de la
Renaissance, vol. i. part i. ; L'Etat considere au point de vue du
micanisme ; and Gebhart, Les Origines de la Renaissance en Italie,
chap. iii.
a Filippo Villani, Istorie, xi. 101.
treasons, poisonings, and assassinations. Barnabo
Visconti (1354) has a family likeness to the cruellest
Roman Emperors. He issues an articled decree
making the penalty of death a torture of forty days'
duration. His chief occupation is boar hunting.
Whoever dares encroach upon the august hunter's
rights perishes amid most fearful torments. He
compels the trembling populace to maintain five
thousand hounds for his use. His grandnephew,
Giovanni-Maria, perfected the institution : he trained
his hounds to hunt men. When the people's cry of
"pace!" reached his ears in the month of May 1409,
while the protracted war still raged, he ordered the
crowd to be charged, and caused the death of two
hundred persons. In consequence of this event the
mere use of the words pace and guerra was forbidden,
and even the priests were ordered to say thenceforth
at the Agnus Dei : " Dona nobis tranquillitatem." 1
Under the last Visconti the State had but one care :
the safety of the prince. The latter sowed dissen
sion broadcast, being persuaded that this procedure
was the only means of ruling. He invariably placed
together an honest man and a knave, who were to
watch and denounce each other. He employed
mercenaries for his defence condottieri whose
demands became greater every day, for they knew
their power. The time would come when, seeing
their advantage in the prince's overthrow, they would
not hesitate to achieve it. Thus the Viscontis per
ished, and the house of Sforza took their place.
Francesco Sforza is the most brilliant type of the
adventurer, and of the Italian condottiere. He was
the admiration of his contemporaries of the fifteenth
century, for he surpassed all as an exemplar of the
1 Burckhardt, op. cit. i. 14-16.
triumph of personal force and victorious ambition
crowned with glory, power, and possession.
At Naples, despite appearances of legality, the
political government was carried on amid the same
conditions. We may take as an example Ferrante
or Ferdinand, son of Alphonso the Great, hateful
among all the princes of the fifteenth century. In
his monstrous cruelty, he liked to see his enemies
about him, whether imprisoned alive in solidly con
structed cages, or dead and embalmed, wearing the
clothes they had worn in life. He even made no
mystery of his collection of mummies.1
Against such men every means of defence was
permissible. Tyrannicide was exalted as in ancient
times, and was encompassed under singularly odious
and demoralising conditions. The necessity of safety
in its accomplishment led to the selection of the
church as the scene of murder ; and when the tyrant's
head was bowed in prayer before his God, the
assassins' knife would cast him wounded or lifeless at
the foot of the altar.2
A pagan sovereignty provokes a pagan resistance.
What condition is graver for a society than this
absence of all legitimate power, than this state in
which nothing happens in virtue of justice when the
possessor of force, intellect, and ability may permit
himself all things ? Such a state of affairs is certainly
well adapted to develop human energies.3 Italy
abounded with notable personalities and strong wills ;
for robust temperaments and individualities, original
1 Burckhardt, op. cit. vol. i. part i. chap. v. Les grandes maisons
2 Burckhardt, op. cit. vol. i. part i. chap. vi. Les adversaires de la
3 Burckhardt, 2nd part, chap, i., L'Etat Italien et I'individu.
even to monstrosity, were formed in these party
struggles. But scruples as to the means which might
be employed to obtain success did not enter into
consideration. The Christian law fell into contempt.
After trampling the Church underfoot all their lives,
most of these triumphant adventurers died laughing
at her excommunications.
Reaction was inevitable : the demoralisation gradu
ally percolated from the higher to the lower classes.
All wished to be rich, powerful, and strong ; success
and pleasure, success for the sake of pleasures, such
was the goal which each proposed to attain. What
had become then of Christian feeling ? The Italian,
thus evolved, was ready to be influenced by the spirit
of antiquity in the worst or most pagan sense. And
at this very moment antiquity was reborn in mani
fold guise.
The spirit of antiquity was revived in a very
different manner in Italy and in the north of Europe.
In the north this spirit is, so to speak, an importa
tion, whereas the Italian has but to return to the
past ; antiquity survived with him ; he had but to
look around him to realise it. Rome, the city "of
eloquent ruins," as Ozanam says, had already induced
many returns towards classical antiquity and many
vocations to artistic, historical, and literary pursuits.
The study of monuments and excavations was to
multiply the number of these vocations.
The first indication of the Rennaissance was to
appear in Art, and this at Florence through Brunelleschi.
Beauty of form was soon to be preferred
above pure Christian inspiration ; the new principles
in Art werethe imitations of the ancients, the return
to the study of nature, the quest of form and beauty
for their own sakes. Even Christian subjects were
influenced by these new principles. The Saint
Sebastians, the Saint John the Baptists, and the
Magdalens served only to show the artists' knowledge
of the nude and of physical beauty. A Saint Peter
became nothing but a Jupiter deprived of his identity.
You have perhaps read that page of Michelet, at
the beginning of his volume on the Renaissance,
where he speaks of the Leonardo da Vincis in the
Louvre :
" Opposite this ancient mysticism (that of Fra
Angelico) the genius of the Renaissance in its most
eager restlessness and its keenest striving shone forth
from the pictures of da Vinci. There are more than
a thousand years between these contemporary works.
Bacchus, Saint John, and Gioconda turn their eyes
upon you ; you are fascinated and troubled ; a sense
of infinity affects you by a strange magnetism. Art,
nature, future, genius of mystery and discovery,
master of the depths of the world and of the unex
plored abyss of the ages, speak, what do you want
with me ? This canvass attracts me, calls me, seizes
and absorbs me ; I go to it in spite of myself as the
bird to the serpent. Bacchus or Saint John, it
matters not, it is the same person under different
aspects. Look at the young Bacchus in the midst
of the primeval landscape. What silence ! what
curiosity ! in solitude he meditates upon the origin
of things and listens to the rustling of new-born
nature : in the Cyclops' cave he hears the intoxicating
murmur of the gods. There is the same curiosity
concerning good and evil in his Saint John the
Precursor : a resplendent glance which gives its own
light and laughs at the obscurity of time and things,
the infinite eagerness of the new soul seeking know
ledge and crying : ' I have found it ! ' It is the
moment of the revelation of truth to an intellect in
full flower ; of the apprehension of the fruits of
discovery, with gentle irony against the decrepit
child, old age."1
But the return to ancient learning had preceded
the renewal of ancient art, and was to have deeper
and more lasting effects. In the latter case it was
not merely a question of admirable form, but of the
very substance of ideas, which, thanks to the form
and also, as cannot be too often repeated, to the pre
disposition of the Italian mind, would imbue their
intellects. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
are the epoch of great and fortunate discoveries : who
is not aware of the praiseworthy efforts of Petrarch
to exhume antiquity, efforts which led to a general
propagation of all it works ?
To whom was this due ? To the humaniststhat
is to say, to those who at the beginning of the second
half of the fourteenth century placed antiquity on
the basis of intellectual culture, and consequently
prepared that fusion of the ancient with the Italian
spirit which gave rise to the spirit of modernity.
Humanism is a power with many ramifications the
influence of which is exercised in many different
It was exercised first by striking personalities, by
geniuses of the highest order, such as Petrarch and
Boccaccio; by the whole of that class of men of
letters who gradually spread over the whole of Italy
and so led to the dissemination of the ancient cul
ture. Again, it was exercised by the universities,
and by the schools of Latin which were founded in
many towns. At the court of Giovanni-Francesco
1 Introduction, p. 101.
de Gonzaga (1407-1444), at Mantua, a school was
established by the illustrious humanist Vittorino da
Feltre.1 He spent his life teaching, and wrote hardly
anything ; he was a humanist in virtue of the harmony
of his gifts and knowledge, which made him one of
those " universal men " who were so much admired
by the Italians of the fifteenth century. He excelled
in all the arts, and he was as well acquainted with
bodily exercises as with those of the mind. Pupils
came to him, therefore, from the whole of Italy and
Germany, both rich and poor, for he taught gratui
tously those who could not pay. He was, indeed, a
Christian master.
These humanists, indeed, were the teachers of
princes, of great lords, and of the most eminent
citizens of the different towns, and thus there was
formed a new and particularly powerful class of
disciples of the ancient culture. Bankers, merchants,
and booksellers were soon to rival the heads of states.
The secret of the marvellous influence of the
Medici was that they placed themselves at the head
of the intellectual movement. Cosmo has the glory
of having recognised the finest flower of the spirit of
the ancients in the philosophy of Plato. Alphonso
the Great, King of Naples, and Frederic, Duke of
Urbino, also, were, each of them, a veritable Mecaenas
to the humanists of their time.
There was, then, a singular fascination about these
men, who seemed to be of superior intellect ; and all
progress was looked for from them. The humanist
became the factotum of the little Italian court ; he
was indispensable to republics, princes, and even
1 C. ltosmini, Idea dell'ottimo precettore nella vita e disciplina di
Vittorino da Feltre e dei suoi discepoli. Bassano, 1810. Cf. Burckhardt,
vol. i. part iii. chap. v.
popes ; it was impossible to do without his co-opera
tion in the drawing up of letters and in the solemn
holding of public orations.
The two secretaries and stylists of Leo X., Pietro
Bembo and Giacomo Sadolet, became illustrious
among their fellows. A humanist was privileged in
all things, inasmuch as he had knowledge and talent.
Though a layman, and married, he spoke in the
churches ; he would ascend the pulpit, and there
pronounce the panegyric of a saint, or the funeral
oration of some distinguished person ; he delivered
marriage sermons, and preached even at the first
mass of some ecclesiastical friend.1
This exaggerated favour ended in the downfall of
the humanists. They were soon greedy for gold, and
puffed up with pride. Parents, hoping to see their
children grow up at the court of a prince, shrunk
from no sacrifice that might obtain for them the
instruction and education which would enable them
to play later so brilliant a rule. They made them
into little prodigies, who, though hardly adolescent,
threw themselves into a devouring, feverish life,
becoming tutors, secretaries, professors, body-servants,
or quasi-ministers of princes. They were exposed
to every seduction and every advance, and they were
the objects of mortal jealousies. It is not astonish
ing that these youths should soon surrender them
selves to the most scandalous excesses, and that to
infidelity they should add immorality.
They formed factions, and made formidable accusa
tions against each other, calumniating each other in
the foullest way; and so partly causing the deep
discredit into which they fell in the sixteenth century.
1 Anecdota litteraria ex mss. Codicibus eruta, 4 vols. Romtc, 1772-
1783; C. Kosniini, Vita di Francesco Filel/o. Milan, 1808. 3 vols.
What changes have been wrought by the human
ists ? Firstly, a general Latinisation of culture, which
led to the reappearance of all the styles of antiquity.1
Treatises, letters, and dialogues diffused the manners
and the doctrines of the old Roman literature
throughout Italy ; what is but commonplace to us
seemed then quite new; they were laboriously re
discovered views upon subjects that it had no longer
been the custom to discuss. Is it astonishing that
such writings should have excited universal enthusi
asm? Nevertheless, it did not take long for this
too complete resurrection of the past to produce
grievous consequences. Soon the national culture
was threatened. The free and spontaneous use of
intellect, which was supposed to have been freshly
awakened, erected new barriers around itself. Above
all, it led to the appeal to the ancientsthat is to say,
to pagansfor the solution of the great problems
which Christianity had solved for the preceding
generations. It developed Latinisation of culture
into its paganisation.
It is at this point that we reach the root of the
question we are considering. In what particulars is
the Renaissance opposed to the spirit of Christianity ?
Is it in the return to classical letters ? No ; the
return to classical letters had, in itself, nothing
essentially evil.
Many of the Fathers of the Church had approved
of that culture, and had themselves derived profit
from it without the smallest loss of their Christian
Is it in the return to the cult of form and beauty ?
Again, no. Assuredly, from the point of view of
form, an artist's concepts may be more beautiful than
1 Burckhardt, op. cit. vol. i. part iii. chap. ix.
the painting or sculpture of the Middle Ages without
lowering the inspiration which animates his works.
Is it in the return to the study of nature ? No,
not even in that, although there are some who pre
tend that the Church held it dangerous and shameful
in the centuries preceding the fourteenth and fifteenth.
" Long before Pius II. in his Commentaries praised
the landscapes of the Alban Mountains and Amiata,
the holy books had celebrated the marvels of physical
nature in magnificent terms." 1 And as to human
nature and the problems to which it gives rise, they
had been studied by Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas,
and many others with a precision and minuteness by
no means less than those which were brought to
bear upon them by the writers of the Renaissance.
Once more, in what particular is the Renaissance
opposed to the spirit of Christianity ? In the return
to the ancient spirit, the spirit of pagan antiquity.
It is indeed this which places the Italian Renaissance
at the antipodes of Christianity.
There is fundamental opposition between the ancient
and the Christian spirit.
The Christian concept of life is based on the idea
of a nature fallen, corrupt, and reduced to feebleness ;
on the idea of sin and the necessity of divine help to
raise nature and to avoid sin. Again, it is based on
the idea of the redemption of humanity by a God
who was made Man, and suffered. Christianity
places the supernatural order above the natural,
and, if it deifies man, it does so by infusing super
natural fife into him ; by giving him a participation
1 Guirand, L'Eglise et les origincs de la Renaissance, p. 288. See
on the subject Introduction to Pastor's History of the Popes.
English translation. London : Kegan Paul.
in the divine lifea free favour of God, that is, a gift
or a grace.
It is quite otherwise with paganism. The ancient
and pagan concept of life is based on the deification
of nature itself, of physical nature and human nature.
Eritis sicut dii, ye shall be as gods, said paganism ;
and it was said in the sense in which the Tempter
said it to our first parents. As there is nothing
above nature and reason, the means to the final good
is the following of nature. It is well if reason can
yet discern the good and the best, the inferior and the
superior in nature ! If it be otherwise, the last word
will be the restoration of theflesh and human pride.
Now, I say that the Renaissance, and, in the
Renaissance, the humanism which was the vehicle
of its ideas, returned to the lower concept. And I
prove it.
Humanism takes no account of the supernatural
order, which it passes in silence ; it proclaims the
goodness of nature, its power and efficacy as a
means to all ends.
At the beginning of the fifteenth century Colluccio
Salutati, the master of Poggio, wrote in his Labours
of Hercules, "heaven belongs by right to those
energetic men who have sustained great struggles
and achieved fine works on earth," thus proclaiming
that man draws his last end and his perfection from
himself alone and from his personal efforts.1
With regard to human nature, humanism already
professed that optimism of which Rabelais is a wit
ness, when, speaking of the inhabitants of Thelema,
he says : " Only this clause was in their rule : ' Do
what you wish to do,' because people who are free,
1 Fil. Villani, Vile, p. 15. Quoted by Burckhardt, op. cit. vol. ii.
p. 342.
well born, and well educated, communing in seemly
companies, have by nature an instinct and incentive
urging them to act virtuously."1 Sequere imturam,
follow nature !
To raise the humanity within oneself to the highest
degree of intensity, to know all, to taste all, to
experience all, such is the moral law of humanism ;
a law that is in marvellous concord with the aspira
tions and lack of scruples to which the political and
social condition gave rise in the Italy of the fifteenth
century. The highest ideal is the universal man, who
develops harmoniously each fine quality latent in his
body, and each faculty of his mind ; who cultivates
all the arts and sciences.2
Sequere naturam. As I said before, it is only by
chance that the axiom is interpreted in this relatively
elevated sense. Several of the ancient philosophers
had already been compelled to give a definition of
nature allowing of distinction between the instincts.
Nature, said some, consists in the finer aspirations
common to humanity, the laws of universal con
science ; others considered that it was noble individual
instincts, capable of raising choice souls above their
fellows ; finally, others thought that it consisted of
all the instincts, whatever they might be, their right
to respect being in direct proportion to their imperiousness.
The Renaissance found itself confronted by these
various definitions and tendencies, all of them danger
ous, for the exaltation of human personality appears
at the foundation of all. Their last word is pride ;
1 Gargantua, bk. i. chap. lvii. Rabelais went still further in
bk. iv. chap, xxxii., and completely disclosed his opinions in the
myth of Physis.
2 Cf. Guirand, L'EgUse el les Origints de la Renaissance, p. 295.
and a system of morals with such a foundation knows
no insuperable barrier.
At that epoch, doubtless, as at the present time,
the most eminent men thought to find an agent
which should be efficacious for the resistance of evil,
in the sentiment of honour, that mixture of persisting
conscience and egoistic pride which modern men often
retain when every other principle is lost. But we
know with what vices and illusions this sentiment is
Moreover, it is necessary to insist on the fact that
the Renaissance preferred the least noble of all the
definitions of Sequere naturam : the satisfaction of
every instinct, or, in final analysis, pleasure in all its
forms.1 Lorenzo Valla, for example, declares in his
dialogue de Voluptate that man has a right to this
complete satisfaction of all his desires ; that evident
danger alone may impose abstinence from adultery
and luxury ; that, apart from this rule, all sensual
pleasure is good ; and that continence is a crime
against Nature the Good.2 And this immoral hardi
hood of Valla seems even timid beside that of
Beccadelli (surnamed Panormita of Palermo). In a
book which I prefer to leave unnamed, the most
hideous vices of antiquity are glorified and recom
mended. And this book is no isolated phenomenon !
Poggio, Filelfo, and iEneas Sylvius delighted to pub
lish the most basely scandalous narratives. Literature
has never attained such a degree of obscenity. The
most prominent princes accepted the dedication of
works of this character. And the reality of life was
in accordance with the current theories : the most
1 Guirand, op. cit. p. 296.
2 Vallce opera, Basilece, 1519. Cf. Pastor, Introduction, pp. 16,
30. English trans.
infamous vices reigned without concealment. It
was indeed the restoration of the flesh.1
To the passion for pleasure was joined the passion
for display, and, consequently, cupidity. Money is
needed for display and pleasure ; and so pens, and, if
necessary, persons, were sold ; and flattery and black
mail were the means of action employed by the men
of letters of the epoch.
The humanists achieved the restoration of the flesh ;
they achieved also the restoration of human pride.
One goal alone, they said, deserves the efforts of
man ; that is glory, if he can attain to it, with perfect
contempt for the vices in spite of which great men
have become great. A man of wit or talent, and
especially a man of genius, is above laws.
This concept of the moral law implies the existence
of great demoralisation. Every man is inclined to
justify his life by certain principles which he pro
claims ; it was so at the epoch of the Renaissance ;
there was no delay in making doctrines agree with
practical immorality, and in proclaiming the latter as
a right.
Moreover, we find in the order of speculative
doctrines the same spirit of opposition to Christianity
as in actual practice of life : reason must not share
its reign ; it has all power, therefore no check can be
placed upon it. Revelation is but an obstacle and
an absurdity. So began a series of positive attacks,
made openly or covertly, against the teachings of
Christianity. Petrarch already deplored that to make
an open profession of the Christian faith, and to show
that one held it higher than pagan philosophy, was to
1 Voigt, vol. ii. p. 471 el seq. ; Pastor, Introdtwtion, p. 29.
English trans. ; Thureau - Dangin, St Bernadin de Sienne, pp.
7, 47.
gain a reputation for folly and ignorance.1 A cele
brated politician of Florence, Rinaldo degli Albizzi,
declared that science and faith were incompatible ; 2
Marsilio Ficino, at the court of the Medici, and
Pomponius Lastus at that of the Popes, professed
similar doctrines. They denied even the existence
of God and the immortality of the soul.
Some of the humanists treated Christianity with
disdain and passed it by in silence, as Theodore Gaza
showed when he wrote to Panormita : " The scholars
of our time hardly ever mention the name of Jesus
Christ in their writings."3 Others, more boldly, turned
it to ridicule, seeing in its dogmas nothing but oldfashioned
ideas, incapable of leading in the march of
progress, and worthy only of rejection.
They found especial fault with what is the very
essence of Catholicism, and was most opposed to their
pride and sensuality : the principle of authority and
the mortifying of the senses. We know how well
the Reformation and the Renaissance agree on this
Many humanists, on account of the positions they
occupied, did not think it discreet to attack the truths
of Christianity directly, but they used indirect means,
and they did not miss their mark. For example,
they mocked at scholasticism, and under pretence of
impugning a method, they attacked the foundation
of Catholic theology and demolished it piecemeal.
When Poggio, during the council of Constance,
1 Koerting, Geschichte der Litteratur Italiens, etc. ; Petrarca, vol. i.
pp. 426-427.
2 Commissioni di Rinaldo degli Albizzi, vol. iii. chap. ii. p. 601.
Quoted by Pastor, Introduction, History of the Popes, p. 27. Eng.
8 Quoted by Guirand, op. cit. p. 302.
wrote the famous letter in which he exalted Jerome
of Prague and his death at the stake, he was in reality
exalting the man who could defy the authority of the
Church to her face. And when, in his treatise on
Avarice, addressed to the Archbishop of Saragossa,
he compared the disinterestedness of the philosopher
with the cupidity of the priest, he did more than
signalise certain individual traits ; he endeavoured to
prove that purely human morality is higher and more
efficacious than religious morality.
As the clergy, by their office and their celibacy,
represent the principle of authority and the ideal of
renunciation, and of mortification of the senses, it
was to be expected that they would be passionately
attacked by the humanists, as indeed they were.
Poggio, the forerunner of Voltaire, looked upon
priests as nothing but impostors : " At what do they
aim, what do they seek under the veil of faith, if not
to become rich without working ? If they hypocriti
cally feign to despise money and honours, it is that
they may seem to owe them to merit and virtue."
He makes priests the heroes of the most scurrilous
anecdotes of his Facetiae, endeavouring thus to show
that these professors of continence were the most
dissolute of men.
" In the Curia," says Poggio, " everyone is occupied
with matters secular ; but few things bear any refer
ence to religion. All vices enter in and abound there
in such a way that it is a mirror of the universe " ;
and Lapo de Castiglionchio adds : " Arrogance, in
solence, avarice, hypocrisy, boastfulness, gluttony,
luxury, perfidy, cowardice, roguery, and deceit are the
only things to be found there."1
1 Pastor, J id rod ml ion, History of the Popes, pp. 29-30. English
trans. ; Burckhardt, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 225.
" Such are the declamations," says M. Guirand in
his excellent book on The Church and the Renaissance
from which we borrow these last observations, " such
are the declamations which were increasingly published
in the world of the humanists, who exploited the
Church only to defame her."1
The monks were the object of their attacks still
more than the secular clergy, because they represented
the Christian ideal of renunciation in a higher degree.
The humanists pushed individualism even to the
denial of all dependence and all bonds ; the monks,
by their vow of obedience and constancy, fought and
overcame it. The humanists exalted pride and wit ;
the monks replaced them with humility and voluntary
abasement. The humanists glorified riches ; the
monks took a vow of poverty. The humanists, in
fine, justified sensual pleasure ; the monks mortified
their flesh with penance and chastity.
The pagan Renaissance felt this opposition so well
that it assailed the religious orders with as much
hatred as do our modern sectaries. Among its
writers, some set themselves to demonstrate the
Utopia of the monastic ideal : it was but an illusion
calculated to impose upon simple and credulous souls ;
a semblance destined to hide the vices of convents ;
a sign-board the object of which was to inveigle
custom into the shop that hoisted it. Such is the
thesis that Poggio developed in his pamphlets De
Avaritia and De Miseria humance conditionis ;
Leonardo Aretino in his dissertation Contra hypocritas
; and Filelfo in many of his satires and in his
treatise De Seriis et jocis.
And these men, whose lives were generally unclean,
1 Guirand, L'Eglise et les origines de la Renaissance, p. 304 et
cannot be severe enough against the vices of the
cloisters. We know this kind of hypocrisy !
Other humanists, still more radical in their opposi
tion, denied the morality of the monastic ideal : the
monk who might have realised it in all its perfection
would have gained only their scorn. Obedience, selfdenial,
poverty, humility, and chastity were looked
upon by them as vices resulting from most dangerous
perversions of the mind ; and this especially in the
case of chastity. " Fallen young women," writes
Lorenzo Valla, " are of more use to humanity than
Sisters and virgins. . . ."* The greater the severity
and fervency of an Order, the more it was attacked.
Thus the Franciscans of the Observance, disciples
of Saint Bernadine of Sienna, were the objects
of the foulest sarcasm. The Benedictines and
the Conventuals, on the other hand, were spared
because their riches rendered them more acces
sible to the thoughts and tastes of the world,
and because many of them allowed a relaxation
of the monastic ideal.2 This gives us the exact
measure of these writers' sincerity and purity of
I have not to consider here to what radical depth
the operations of pagan humanism reached. We may
say with Burckhardt : " What eye can sound the
depths at which the characters and destinies of peoples
are formed, at which natural and acquired qualities
constitute a new whole, at which primordial character
is two or three times recast, at which intellectual gifts,
that we are disposed to regard as primitive at first
sight, are relatively late and novel acquisitions. . . . ?
How shall we unravel these thousand currents by
1 Valla, de Voluptate, bk. i. chap. xliv.
1 Guirand, op. cit. pp. 305-306.
which intellect and morality unceasingly mingle and
I knowfor have Pastor and Thureau-Dangin
shown how much constant faith, strict morality,
and even austere penance may be pointed out in that
Italy which wished to transform itself from a " guest
house of sorrow," as Dante says, into one of pleasure
and epicurean gaiety.2
Nevertheless, I cannot forget so many crimes, so
many atrocious and subtle acts of revenge, so many
mercenary assassinations, so many cowardly and
treacherous poisonings, in company with so many
ignoble vices, the shameful secret of which is laid
open to me by preachers as well as by men of letters
and historians, and I can only repeat the avowals of
Machiavelli or Benivieni : " Indeed, we Italians are
profoundly irreligious and depraved."3 "Iniquity
and sin was multiplied in Italy," says Benivieni,
"because the nation had lost the Christian faith.
It was generally believed that everything in the
world, especially human creatures and affairs, had
no cause other than chance. Some thought that
the latter was governed by the movements and
influences of the stars. The future life was denied,
and religion was mocked. The wise men of the
world found it too simple, good at best for
women and fools. Some saw in it only the lying
invention of man. ... In short, Italy, and especi
ally the town of Florence, was given over to
unbelief. . . . Even women denied the faith of
Christ ; and all, both men and women, returned
to pagan customs, delighting in the study of the
1 Burckhardt, vol. i. part vi., Mceurs et Religion, chap. i.
2 Thureau-Dangin, St Bernadin de Sienne, pp. 10-11.
3 Machiavelli, Discorsi, bk. i. chap. xii.
poets, and astrologers, and all the pagan supersti
tions." *
Michelet's aphorism is recalled to my mind :
" ' Follow nature ! ' This saying of the stoics was
the farewell of antiquity. ' Return to nature ' is our
greeting from the Renaissanceits first word. And
it is the final word of reason."2
But behold : this last word of antiquity, this first
word of the Renaissance, and this final word of
reason, has led not only to vice and crime, but to
superstition, to belief in demons and sorcery, that is,
to the humiliation of that very reason which it deified !
How much greater and juster a spirit than that of
Michelet is shown by Taine, when he writes of those
wings of Christianity, which are alone able to raise
mankind above itself: "Always and everywhere,
for eighteen hundred years, whenever those wings
fail or are broken, public and private morals are de
graded. In Italy during the Renaissance, in England
under the Restoration, in France under the National
Convention and the Directorate, man seemed to become
as pagan as in the first century ; he became at once
as he was in the times of Augustus and Tiberius, vol
uptuous and hard-hearted ; he misused others and him
self; brutal or calculating egoism regained ascendancy,
cruelty and sensuality were openly paraded, and society
became the abode of ruffians and the haunt of evil." 3
Yes: but if the movement of the Renaissance
gathered finally to such a head, how comes it that it
enjoyed the protection of the Church ? This is the
problem which we shall next endeavour to elucidate.
1 Quoted by Perreus, Jerome SavonaroU, 2nd ed. p. 44.
2 Michelet, Renaissance, p. 482.
3 Taine, Les Origines de la France contemporaine. Le Regime
moderne, vol. ii. p. 118.
Characteristics of the Renaissance in France, England,
and Germany The Extent of its Connection in
these Countries with the Protestant Movement l
Having shown you the origin and developments
in Italy of that great movement known as the
Renaissance, I should, to complete my work, take
you over the whole of Europeto Spain, Hungary,
Poland, and even to Swedenand I should show
you the influence of humanism upon the various
minds, the universal introduction of the new culture,
exercising everywhere its action upon the life of
society. But I must limit myself. Moreover, it is
not, and must not be, my aim to acquaint you with
this movement of humanism and the Renaissance for
its own sake. I study it only in its relation to the
moral and religious revolution which marked the
first half of the sixteenth century. I must therefore
confine myself wholly to those nations that played a
decisive part in that revolution and initiated the
others into it. In Italy, as we have seen, the
Renaissance was a true return to classical antiquity,
andthanks to connivances from the nation's moral
stateit was also a return to the ancient rational,
naturalistic, and pagan spirit. In Germany, the
return to classical antiquity involved a return to
Christian antiquity; the tendency was not towards
1 The principal works to consult upon the Renaissance, in
Germany, France, and England, are named at the head of each
section of this chapter.
the reawakening of the ancient spirit, but towards
a pretended restoration of primitive Christianity
towards Protestantism. The English and French
inclined towards a mixed solution ; England, influ
enced by causes in no way due to humanism or to
intellectual progress, was gradually led towards that
moderate Protestantism which has for centuries
remained its historical characteristic. France, after
being shaken to its foundations, remained faithful to
its traditional faith, and succeeded in finding the
common ground between that faith, the ancient cul
ture, and what was best in the religious aspirations
of the sixteenth century.
It is evident that in these three countries the
classical movement, the progress of humanism, was
mixed to some extent with the origin of the religious
movement. The greater part of this treatise will be
devoted to showing to what extent they concurred.
But first I must answer briefly another question
which I seem to read in the minds of my audience.
Why did the humanist and religious movements
in these countries tend to unite ? At first sight
they seem contradictory; then what have they in
common ?
In the first place it is a question of date. The
Renaissance was in full swing in Italy in the fifteenth
century, and reached its apogee in the first quarter
of the sixteenth, when it was only beginning to trans
form Germany, England, and France. It is to be
noted that it was after 1530 that doctrine in France
became organised, if I may use the expression, by the
foundation of the College of France ; it was also the
time of the arrival of Rosso and Primaticcio. Now,
it was in 1517 that Luther published his theses upon
Indulgences ; in 1520 that, at the Diet of Worms,
he cast defiance at the Roman Church. The two
movements were therefore contemporary.
In the second place, classical antiquity, as I have
said above, is an importation into Germany, England,
and even France. To Germans, English, and French
it was not a rediscovery of their past. It was, and
could only be, the monopoly of those who studied
literature, and consequently its influence was much
less in these countries than in Italy.
In Italy everything combined not only to accelerate
the movement of transformation, but also to give it a
specific direction. For example, the influence of art,
though inferior to that of humanism, was very great,
because it was felt everywhere, and to the same direc
tion as in humanism ; it was either the reappearance
or the restoration of the art of antiquity, with the
avowed cult of beauty for beauty's sake, and form for
form's sake. In Germany, France, and even England
there was a very beautiful artistic efflorescence in the
first half of the sixteenth century, but this art, though
wholly subject to the Italo-classical influence, remained
faithful to national traditions. Consider the great
number of monuments which covered Germany at
the end of the fifteenth and at the beginning of the
sixteenth centuries ; her churches and town halls ;
examine, in the church of Saint Sebald of Niirnberg,
Peter Vischer's masterpiece of such exquisite work
manship ; the shrine around which the apostles, whose
figures the artist has endowed with the expression of
life to so wonderful a degree, mount guard, ranged
along their little bronze colonnade; in the dome of
Ulm, stay a little before the oaken stalls of Syrlinthe-
Elder, which he has enriched with those heads of
ancient sages, prophets, and sybils so marvellously
expressive and so perfect ; at Nurnberg, again, look
at Albert Durer's intricate work in his little house,
which stands to this day; or, in the great salon of
the museum of Bale, tarry before the admirable
collection of Holbeins, so keenly realistic yet of
such pure and sober draughtsmanship. The influence
of the Renaissance is indeed in these; its spirit is
there, and especially those ancient attributes of which
it is everywhere so lavish ; and yet how all this art is,
and remains, completely German !
And in France, how entirely French is that ex
quisite Renaissance, which is the charm, and, as it
were, the smile of the reigns of Charles VIII. and
Louis XII., and even of the greater part of that of
Francis I. ! 1 Rosso and Primaticcio, imbued with
Italo-classical aesthetics, were certainly admired when
they came, but they remained, none the less, only a
foreign school established in France, and they did not
supersede French art, precisely because, as a critic
has remarked, " they made no concession to French
taste, because the French saw in the work of the
former no reflection of themselves or of their life, but
of that of the Romans and Greeks ; they saw nothing
of their own traditions, but those of antiquity ; nothing
of their beliefs, of Christ, the Virgin and the Saints,
but gods and godesses."2 Precisely for this reason
they exercised but a very limited influence. In any
case, Italo-classical art had not the smallest effect
upon the intellectual movement, and we need take
no account of it when studying the intellectual and
moral transformation of the French of the sixteenth
century ; although it would be absurd to study the
1 E. Muntz, La Renaissance en Italic el en France A T&poque de
Charles Fill. Paris, 1 885.
2 Lemounier, in L'Hisloire de France, of Lavisse, vol. v. p. 357.
Italians of the fifteenth without taking the artistic
factor into consideration.
Even in the intellectual order, the restoration of
antiquity, since it was an importation, exercised but
a restricted influence in Germany, England, and
France ; the national genius was strong enough to
absorb the foreign elements ; Colet and Thomas
More are real Englishmen under the mantle of the
Renaissance ; and in France even those who drink
deepest of the spirit of the Renaissance remain
Frenchmen, faithful to their ancestral traditions ;
did not Rabelais and Marguerite de Navarre, for
instance, carry on in a new spirit the tradition of the
charming old romancers ?
In France and England humanism found a con
siderable following in the higher classes, among
writers, professors, scholars, the notability, magis
trates, and members of the superior clergy, but it did
not reach the masses.
France, unlike Italy, was not composed of little
principalities or republics, where everything was seen
and known and reacted immediately from top to
bottom ; it was one great body, consisting of imposing
masses. The middle classes throughout the kingdom
were stable, powerful, and traditional. They were
scaffolded about by a system of institutions which
supported them ; they were formed in colleges and
in very ancient universities, the methods of which
they did not fail to defend. These environments
opposed a sort of inertia to the reception of new
ideas, and even repugnance, when it was ascertained
that suspicious religious ideas were mingled with the
literary innovations.
You know of that episode in the history of the
college of Navarre, at the opening of the session of
1533. The pupils played a comedy in public, accord
ing to custom (school entertainments had already
been invented). On this occasion the rhetoricians
took it into their heads to perform a piece of their
own devising, full of allusions to contemporary events,
although they had as yet no journals to inform them.
The outline of the piece was this. A queen
Marguerite of Navarreis engaged in spinning,
when a Fury (Master Gerard) approaches her and
gives her a copy of the Gospels for the purpose of
perverting her. The queen reads it, is changed into
a Fury, and directs all her energy to the oppres
sion of the unfortunate and innocent. No one was
deceived as to the allusions.
I need not remind you of the attitude of the
Sorbonne, especially in the famous episode of the
Quarrel of Erasmus which set the humanists and
scholastics at war.
Finally, in the moral order, the Renaissance did
not find the ground in Germany, France, or England
prepared as it was in Italy. The fourteenth-century
Italian, cast in his political and social mould, was
necessary to enable the Italian of the fifteenth to
assimilate all the fruits of the ancient spirit. England,
France, and Germany had undoubtedly much to suffer
during those sad fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
but they were organised states, with legitimate
governing powers ; the classes of the nation formed
a hierarchy ; in Germany, each man had his rights,
under the Emperor's guarantee ; in France there was
never better harmony between the different classes of
society than in the first twenty years of the sixteenth
century ; the monarchy was still limited ; it exercised
its own rights paternally, and still respected those of
others. Briefly, there was good order, and, on the
whole, an authority worthy of respect. The masses
were neither demoralised nor unchristianised, as was
the case in too many Italian towns.
It was therefore natural that in Germany, England,
and France the movement of the Renaissance should
not tend to reawaken paganism : if it was to intro
duce reforms they would be Christian ones.
Where the masses were, from different causes, dis
posed to follow the religious reformers, they would
submit to the influence of that humanism which was
associated with the reformers' work ; this took place
in Germany. Where the masses were hostile to the
religious reformers, they would regard humanists,
whom they considered the allies of the former, with
suspicion ; this happened in France.
Howbeit,the two movements had points in common,
and they had, or seemed to have, a common origin.
You have seen why this was the case ; I must now
show you to what extent this real or apparent con
fusion existed.

" The intellectual life of the German people," says
Mgr. Janssen, " enters at the end of the second half of
the fifteenth century into a new and happy phase of
its development." 1
A general desire for culture was everywhere mani
fest. Men of every age and condition became apostles
of " the Renaissance." " They went," says Wimpheling,
2 the Alsatian humanist, "the tutor of
*I confine myself to referring readers to the two works of Mgr.
Janssen for particulars as to the German Renaissance : L' Allemagne
a la Jin du Mot/en Age, and La Civilisation en Allemagne depuis la Jin du
Mot/en Age, vols. i. and vi. of the French translation.
2 Upon Wimpheling, see the of works WiskowatofF, Jacob
Wimpheling, etc., Berlin, 1 867, and of Schwarz, Gotha, 1 875.
Germany" " from canton to canton, and from
country to country, spreading the good news every
where, everywhere exalting the excellence and
nobility of the arts and sciences, and praising all
the benefits to be derived from their encouragement
and development." Germany was never more pro
lific of remarkable men. Having been formed in the
old school, they, at least, were still for the most part
convinced Christians. Thanks to printing, their ideas
were scattered broadcast. The diffusion of religious
books preceded that of the classics ; the Bible was
republished more than a hundred times between
1452 and 1500, in ninety-eight Latin and sixteen
German editions (which proves by the way that it
was translated and read in the vulgar tongue long
before Luther). The consideration shown to teachers,
even elementary ones, shows the great esteem in which
knowledge was held.
In different parts of Germany humanists of note
appeared whose influence was very great. They
sought in the study of the classics for a complement
to their Christian education which they by no means
renounced. James Wimpheling, in his great peda
gogical work, writes : " It is not the study in itself of
classical antiquity that is a danger to Christian
education ; it is the false estimate of it, the bad use
to which it may be put. Without doubt, it would
be deplorable if we were to propagate by means of
the classics a pagan way of judging and thinking,
as has often happened in Italy ; and if we were
to place literary works in the hands of our students
which might, in their young minds, imperil patriotism
or Christian morality. But, on the other hand,
antiquity properly understood may render the most
valuable services to morals and theological science."
"We can in all security," says Trithemus, "re
commend the study of the ancients to those who
do not apply themselves thereto in a frivolous spirit,
or for the mere amusement of their minds, but for
the serious formation of their intellects, and to amass
therefrom, in imitation of the Fathers of the Church,
precious seeds appropriate to serve the development
of the Christian sciences. For our part, we consider
this study indispensable to theology."
We may take Rodolphus Agricola,1 the Heidelberg
professor, who died in 1482, as our type of these
humanist teachers ; he united all the classical attain
ments ; he wrote verses so well that his con
temporaries compared him with Virgil ; even in Italy
he was admired for his Latin ; he knew Hebrew and
translated the Psalms. Moreover, he cultivated
philosophy and the sciences, and did not scorn to
write German of the purest style. Like Petrarch in
Italy, he was the revealer of antiquity to his con
temporaries. Nevertheless his mind remained
Christian and ruled his conduct. " If Agricola is
so great," wrote Wimpheling, " it is because his
science and philosophy have served only to free him
from every passion, and to contribute to the great
work of personal perfection, of which God himself is
the architect in faith and prayer." 2
Humanism was at first propagated by teaching.
As in Italy, its disseminators were illustrious teachers,
such as Alexander Hegins, whose name is associated
in our memories with that of the Italian, Vittorino da
Feltre. He was director, successively, of the schools
1Tresling, Vita et Merita Rudolphi Agricolce. Groningen, 1830.
Cf. Janssen, i. p. 101 sq. English Trans.
2 Quoted by Janssen, History of the German People, vol. i. p. 101
sqq. English trans. Kegan Paul,
of Wesel, Emmerich, and Deventer, where he had,
it is said, as many as two thousand two hundred pupils ;
he made the Greek and Latin classics the basis of the
instruction of youth ; he modified the methods of teach
ing, and inspired not only the love of study, but even
a passion for teaching, in a great number of his pupils.
The attraction he exercised was in great part due to
his high moral and religious worth.
The part played by universities was much greater
than that of isolated masters, and they were much more
active than in Italy ; has it not been thus more than
once in the course of German history ? They were
still young, but eminent men gathered around them.
At Cologne there were Bartholomeus of Cologne and
Ortwin Gratius ; at Heidelberg, Rodolphus Agricola,
the chancellor Johann von Dalberg, Reuchlin, the
illustrious abbot of Sponheim, Johann Trithemus,
the greatest German historian of the century ; at
Erfiirth, the famous group of humanists founded by
Maternus Pistorius, with Crotus Rubeanus, Eoban
Hesse, Hermann Busch, Mutianthe poets who soon
opposed the scholastics ; at Basel, Heylin von Stein,
who still adhered to the scholastic school and re
presented it with honour; finally, at Strasburg,
Wimpheling, in whom ardent patriotism was joined
with extensive learning, dictated the first history of
Germany written by a humanist.
In short, the spread of humanism was marvellous :
certain humanists, such as Willibald Pirckheimer of
Niirnberg, or Conrad Peutinger of Augsburg, rivalled
the most illustrious Florentines. There was a very
fever of classical study.
Did the Renaissance produce more astonishing
results in the land of Pico della Mirandola than in
the Germany of Adam Potken, who read the iEneid
and the speeches of Cicero to pupils eleven or
twelve years old, or of Johann Eck, who completed
the whole course of the Latin classics between his
ninth and twelfth years, or of Cuspinian, who de
livered lectures at Vienna when he was eighteen years
old, and was rector of the University at twentyseven
These early humanists, who were, I repeat, for the
most part Christian, saw abuses in the Church, and
desired a reform. They were not wrong, for they
wanted a moderate reform, and not a rupture with
Unfortunately, a new humanism developed before
the end of the fifteenth century differing much from
the first both in its effects and its principles ; and this
humanism was the chief agent in that vast and im
portant revolution which was soon to take place in
the world of thought. This humanism was the fore
runner and ally of Luther.1
The protagonistmore or less consciousof this
new humanism was Erasmus.2 I say more or less
conscious because, in spite of his ability, Erasmus
does not seem to have realised the import of his
attacks on the Church, her constitution and teaching ;
at least he always disclaims any wish to wage real
war against her. Though a religious, he abandoned
his convent and heaped sarcasm on his religious
brethren ; though a priest, he never said Mass and
seldom assisted at it ; the prayers of the breviary,
fasting, abstinence, and the rules of penance, he con
1 See the development of this idea in vol. iii. chap. i. of Janssen.
English trans.
a Upon Erasmus, cf. Feugere, Erasmus; Etude sur sa vie et ses
ouvrages. Paris, 1879* Kerker, Erasmus und sein theologischer
Standpunkt ; in Tub. Theolog. Quartalschrifft. Tubingen, 1857.
sidered ridiculous, and ignored them.1 He respected
dogma only for form's sake. " If one wish," he wrote,
" to attain that peace, that concord, which is the ideal
of our religion, one must speak as little as possible
of the definitions of dogma, and permit free and
personal judgment to each upon many points." 2 Like
certain of our contemporaries he proposes simply the
revision of certain doctrines long taught by the
Church. He interprets Holy Scripture in a manner
that is almost rationalistic ; he wishes the spiritual
sense alone to be seen. Speaking of the history of
Adam and Eve he says : " If you read all that having
only regard for the surface, I cannot see that you do
anything more useful for your soul than if you recite
the history of the clay image of Prometheus, and the
fire stolen from heaven to give life to the dust. Per
haps it is even more profitable to read the fables of
paganism as allegories than to nourish oneself upon
narratives from Holy Scripture, whilst remaining
bound to the letter."3
That which he extols under the name of Christian
philosophy is in reality the wisdom of the ancients.
The prodigious multiplicity of his accomplishments,
his continuous and varied works, the copiousness of
his views, the life and richness of his style, the vivacity
and keenness of his wit, gave him an influence on his
age which has many times been compared, with little
exaggeration, to that of Voltaire on the eighteenth
It was he who committed humanism to absolute
1 Lucubrationes, 18. 2 Quoted by Kerker, p. 541.
3 See this and other analogous opinions of Erasmus in Hagen,
Deulschlands litterarische und religioese VerhmUuisse im Reformationszeitalter,
vol. i. pp. 307-318. Frankfort, 1868. Cf. Janssen, vol.
iii. chap. i. English trans.
contempt for the Middle Ages, scholastic philosophy,
and the influence of the Church. It has been said of
his Eulogy of Folly, published first in 1509 and multi
plied by seven editions in the space of a few months,
that "it is the prologue of the great theological
tragedy of the sixteenth century."1
Mutian, canon of Gotha, Crotus Iiubeanus, and
Eoban Hesse, the humanists of Erfurth,2 followed
him in the struggle with the scholastics ; the in
tellectual division of Germany, which came to a head
in the Reuchlin controversy, was already in prepara
tion. Reuchlin, one of the greatest of the humanists,
and one of the founders of Hebraic science, was
attacked by the theologians of Cologne on account
of his books De Verbo mirifico and De arte cabbalistica ;
the minds of all were incensed ; the humanists de
clared themselves with fury against the scholastics,
whom they covered with ridicule in the Epistulce
virorum obscuromm. Here, then, were allies quite
ready for Luther, who published his theses in the
following year (1517).3
It may, however, be objected : What can be common
to a semi-pagan of the Renaissance and a reformer of
the Church, a Protestant who does not trust to his
reason, but subjects it to faith ?
There is opposition, it is trueand that is why the
split was not long delayed. Nevertheless there is a
principle common to the Renaissance and the Reforma
tion, namely, free investigation, and an identical
method and procedure. The study of Christian an
1 Feugere, p. 341.
2 Kampschulte, Die Universiicel Erfurt in ihrem Verluelluiss zu
dent Humanismus und der Reformation. Treves, 1858-1860.
3 L. Geiger. Johann Reuchlin, Sem Leben und Seine Werke.
Leipzig, 1871.
tiquity is a corollary to that of Pagan antiquity.1 On
every side men traced things to their source, and
inquired into original documents ; they wished to
know them, to read them, to comment upon them,
and to interpret them freely. On all sides doctrine,
as it was taught by the Catholic Church, was con
sidered corrupt. The motto of Erasmus, Christum
ex fontibus prcedicare, became that of many en
lightened minds, who, with unconscious rashness, had
no scruple in breaking with tradition because that
tradition appeared to them under the form of a semibarbarous
teaching which was cut off from its old
and deep-fixed roots.
Therefore in Germany, England, and France there
was a real alliance between the humanists and the
first reformers ; only, in England, and especially in
France, they went much less far than in Germany at
the time of Luther.
The English Renaissance originated directly from
the Italian.2 Its first representatives, Grocyn, Linacre,
and Colet, studied Greek at Florence under Chalcondyles
and Angelus Politianus, and on their return
to Oxford inaugurated the new teaching. With
them lived Thomas More, already celebrated at
twenty years of age for his Latin verses and his life
of Pico della Mirandola. Erasmus, arriving from
1 M. Buisson, in his Sebastien Castellion, vol. i. pp. 50-53, says
with that exaggeration familiar in Protestants but in a decidedly
striking manner : " Humanity has rediscovered the Gospels as it
rediscovered the Iliad . . . the sacred double deposit which it has
received from antiquity."
2 Upon the English Renaissance consult : Seebohm, The Oxford
Reformers. London, 1887. C. E. Bridgett, Life and Writings of
Sir Thomas More. London, 1891. H. lireinoiul, he bien heureux
Thomas More. Paris, 1904.
Italy, rejoined them. " When I listen to my friend
Colet," he wrote after his introduction to the little
coterie of Oxford, " I seem to hear Plato himself.
How vast are the accomplishments of Grocyn ! How
deep and subtle are the opinions of Linacre ! What
nature is happier and more ardent than that of
Thomas More!"
It was in the house of Thomas More that Erasmus,
in 1509, wrote his Praise of Folly ; it was at Cam
bridge that he laboured at his great work, the revised
edition of the New Testament (printed at Basle in
1516) ; a critical edition intended, as he says, to give
us "the true teaching of the apostles and the true
likeness of Christ," too long hidden under commen
taries and false readings.
The inspiration of the cenacle of Oxford was a
religious inspiration. The Protestant Green in his
History of the English People, goes so far as to write
with an enthusiasm not wholly devoid of exaggera
tion : " The conception of a rational Christianity, not
only in England, but in the Teutonic world in general,
dates from John Colet's sojourn in Florence."
When Colet left Florence he was wholly indifferent
to the platonic mysticism and semi-unbelief of the
group of scholars who surrounded Lorenzo de Medici.
If he shared their literary tastes it was but in a small
degree. The study of Greek seemed to have no other
end for him than to help him to penetrate more deeply
into the sense of the Gospels and other New Testa
ment writings ; he hoped to find thus an adequate
basis of faith ; moreover, he criticised the text with
great freedom. He considered the great dogmatic
structure of the Middle Ages as "the unwholesome
concepts of pedants " ; he wished to stop short at the
historical and verbal sense of the Bible, and to reject
everything that was not found therein. His faith
was based simply upon the living consciousness of' the
reality of the person of Christ. According to him the
life and recorded words of Christ sufficed to give us a
simple and rational religion. " For the rest, let theo
logians quarrel as much as they like ! " He, who had
seen Alexander VI. and Savonarola, was filled with
the idea that the Church was in need of reformation ;
he prayed Jesus Christ to " wash not only the feet of
his Church, but her hands and her head."
Colet had faithful disciples. He also tried to reform
teaching ; he founded a public school near the Cathedral
Church of Saint Paul of which he had been appointed
Dean. The new class-books were written by him
self and his friends. Many schools were modelled
upon his.
At the time of the Peace of London, in 1514, which
put an end to the war with France, the revival of the
two great classical literatures was already making its
influence felt far and wide.
Thomas More, the purest light of the Oxford
coterie, was a man of deep religious instinct ; but his
theories, as is proved by his famous work, the Descrip
tion of the Republic of Utopia, were chiefly upon social
and political matters.
Henry VIII. was at this date a great protector of
the humanists. How entirely deceived their hopes
would prove to be ! Colet alone died in 1519 without
seeing the inauguration of the religious reformation
which would give the lie to his dreams of reform.
Thomas More and Fisher were its martyrs, and paid
the price of their fidelity to the Catholic Church, in
face of a tyrant's whims, with their lives.
The notion that France was the eldest daughter of
the great Italian Renaissance is an illusion, dear,
perhaps, to the self-esteem of my audience, but an
illusion nevertheless.1 The Renaissance appeared in
France as early as the fourteenth century, but the
Hundred Years War began and the Renaissance
passed away. When the French were prepared to
receive it in the sixteenth century it was already
imminent on every hand. It reigned in Italy, whither
they had sent the flower of their nobility for the last
twenty years ; it reigned in the Netherlands and in
Germany, in those territories of the Emperor Charles
which encircled the kingdom of Francis I. France
went to school to her neighbours ; to Germany and
especially to Italy, but she did not surrender herself
entirely and at once. She looked upon it as a question
of education, to be derived less from great writers
than from scholars and teachers. The resurrection
of classical study was the first step, the reaction
against scholasticism and its method of teaching was
the seconda procedure evidently very similar to that
of Germany and England.
As all acknowledge, the foundation of the College
We cannot pretend to indicate here, even in a summary manner,
all that has been written on the subject of the French Renaissance.
This bibliography will be found in vol. v. of L'Histoire de France,
published by Hachette under the direction of M. Lavisse, at the
head of chap. ii. of bk. ii., of paragraph 3 of chap, i., and at the
head of chap. ii. of bk. v. The following may be mentioned
generally :L'Histoire del al angue el de la litlirature Jrancaise of
Petit de Julleville ; L'Histoire de la liitirature Jrancaise of Brunetiere ;
Le XVI' siecle en France of Hatzfeld and Darmesteter; Fagnet,
Le XVI' siicle (Literary Studies). For the Fine Arts : L. Palustre,
La Renaissance en France ; L. de Laborde, La Renaissance des arts a
la cour de France, etc. etc. The particular point of view with which
we are occupied here has been much elucidated by H. Hauser's
very learned article, De fhumanisme el de la Riforme en France
1512-1552). Revue hislorique, July to August 1897.
of France was the decisive and characteristic event of
this order of ideas.1 It was there, as has been often
remarked, that the tradition of the Middle Ages was
renounced, and classical antiquity triumphed ; that
science gradually conquered and proclaimed its inde
pendence. Had Francis I. a presentiment of this ?
It is certainly true that in spite of the importunity of
Bude", the revivalist of Greek studies, of Etienne
Poncher, Archbishop of Paris, and of his own con
fessor, Guillaume Petit, the " Father of Letters,"
hesitated for ten years before giving the desired
permission. And during these ten years Lutheranism
penetrated into France ; at the Sorbonne Greek
became suspect ; in fine, the humanists themselves
gave rise to doubts as to their orthodoxy. It was
not until 1530 that the king established chairs of
Greek and Hebrew, to which those of mathematics
and Latin were soon added. Such was the beginning
of the great institution. The majority of its professors
were French ; they belonged to the same generation,
had studied under the same masters, and were united
by ideas common to them all. M. Lemonnier, the
historian, says : " Thus was created the spirit of the
College of France, of which the principle was the
study of the ancient languages and civilisation, of
philosophy and of the sciences, liberated from every
prepossession of the mind save the idea of free
Between 1523 and 1543 the principal classical texts,
grammars, and dictionaries appeared. In 1533
Rabelais could write without much exaggeration :
" Now education is entirely restored, and the study
of languages established : Greekwithout knowing
1 Abel Lefranc, Histoire du College de France. Paris, 1 893.
2 Lavisse's Histoire de France, vol. v. p. 29*.
which nobody can honestly call himself a scholar
Hebrew, Chaldean, and Latin." It was already
possible to notice with regret a rather excessive
enthusiasm and an almost servile dependence upon
the ancients.
How was the new culture spread abroad ? Princi
pally by the personal relations of scholarsSturm,
Erasmus, Melancthon, Bucer, Vives, Bude\ Rabelais,
Baduel, Ale"andre, Manuce, etc. Their letters, dis
cussions, quarrels, and controversies were public,
and caused the infiltration of their ideas by holding
the public attention.1
Little literary coteries might be seen in course of
formationfewer in Italy than in Germany, for muni
cipal life in France was in an earlier stage of develop
mentnevertheless, they existed here and there ; in
Paris, of course, but also at Lyons, Ne"rac, and else
Books were one of the best means of propagation ;
printers and booksellers were often men of letters,
scholars who drew fellow-workers around them ; the
Estiennes are the most glorious type of these, and
they are by no means exceptions.2
Moreover, secondary studies in France underwent
a change, as in Italy, Germany, and England, until
they were almost modelled upon the programme,
arranged by Sturm for the College of Strasburg :
Latin grammar, explanations of authors, exercises in
style and in the imitation of the ancients, collections
of words and expressions, translations, recitations ;
1 Ch. Schmidt, Im vie et les travaux de Jean Sturm, 1855 ; Gaufres,
Claude Baduel et la reforme des etudes au XVI* steele; Paris, 1880.
Jules Paquier, Jerdme Aliandre. Paris, 1900.
2 It is worthy of note that the majority of these printers and book
sellers also were favourable to the Reformation. Cf. Hauser,
article quoted above, p. 271.
in a word, all that we have already known in our
childhoodwe who have been fashioned according to
the old humanities. Such is the foundation which
was thenceforth declared necessary for philosophy,
science, and theology. " The theologian," says Baduel,
cannot genuinely expound religion ; nor the lawyer,
laws ; nor the physician the matter of his art, unless
he have been previously instructed and exercised in
letters." l
But they did not rest satisfied with these wise
opinions. A strong reaction soon began against
scholasticism and the methods of the preceding age.
" How is it," cries Rabelais, " that in the midst of
the light that shines in our century, when, by special
favour of the gods, we witness the regeneration of
the most useful and precious learning, there are still
people who cannot or will not turn their gaze from
that Gothic and Cimmerian fog that enfolds them ? "
You know how he ridiculed the doctors of the
Sorbonne. Perhaps some of you are acquainted with
that Master Janotus de Bragmardo whom the Uni
versity of Paris sent to Gargantua to recover the
bells of Notre Dame which the latter had carried
off to make bridle-bells for his mare. " Having well
wrangled the pros and cons, it was concluded in
Baralipton that the oldest and most consequential
member of the theological faculty should be sent to
Gargantua to impress upon him the terrible incon
venience of the loss of these bells, and, notwithstand
ing the remonstrance of certain members of the
University, who alleged that the undertaking was
more suited to an orator than a theologian, our Master
Janotus de Bragmardo was chosen to be entrusted
with the matter."
1 Quoted by Lemonnier, loc. cit. p. 298.
Master Janotus is then represented as arriving
" with his hair cut round like fish, a la Cresarine, in
his most antic accoutrement, liripipionated with a
doctor's hood : and having sufficiently antidoted his
stomach with oven marmalades, and holy water of the
cellar, . . . driving before him three red-muzzled
beadles, and dragging after him five or six artless
masters in art, all thoroughly bedraggled with mire."
And when Master Janotus had coughed prefatorily,
he delivered his harangue, in which Rabelaisludicrously
mimics the style of scholastic dissertations. Thus, he
praises the bells for " the substantific quality of the
elementary complexion which is intronificated in the
terrestreity of their quidditative nature, etc." 1
To what extent did the reaction against the method
entail reaction against the ideas ? In what measure
did the ancient mode of thought penetrate in the
classical studies ? It was not till 1543 that La
Ramee published his Institutiones dialecticce and
Animadversiones in dialecticam Aristotelis, which
brought such violent persecution upon him, and caused
him to be accused of slighting the voice of nature and
truth, and even God. But, definitively, although he
attacks many doctrines generally received, it is im
possible to say that he intended to destroy Christianity
itself. He was a humanist with inclinations towards
the Protestants, among whom he died in the massacre
of Saint Bartholomew.
Rabelais was an adversary of the clergy ; he revised
the mockery and gross invective of the poets of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries against priests and
monks ; the unworthy and base pleasantries in his
fourth book, suggested to him by the descent of
Pantagruel into the isle of the Papimanes make him
1 Gargantua, ch. xix.
rival Luther in his pamphlets against the Pope. But
he deals hardly less tenderly with the " demoniacal
Calvins, the impostors of Geneva." In short, he
seems to have been nothing but a deist philosopher,
sceptical and irreverent towards all revealed dogma.
His religion was naturalism} Michelet calls him a
" great prophet," a prophet of nature and of " profound
faith " ; we shall not go so far as that.
Dolet, one of the most striking types of the Renais
sance, by reason of his agitated, adventurous, and
blameworthy life, and his relish of the ancients, seems
to have fallen into unbelief.2 Calvin does not hesitate
to say : " It is a notorious fact that Agrippa, Villanova,
Dolet, and other Cyclops have always openly despised
the Gospel. And with regard to the life of the soul,
they have declared that it differs in nothing from that
of dogs and pigs." 3
In the four short and decisive dialogues of the
Cymbalum mundi Tocsin of the World, Bonaventure
des Periers introduces Luther, under the transparent
anagram of Rethulus, a sceptic, Thomas du Clenier,
and a believer, Thomas Tryocan (anagrams of incredule
and croyant), Jupiter, Mercury, and some
pontiffs of ancient Rome. And so, by means of vari
ous masks, he tries to disguise his opinions, which, it
seems, escaped the notice of the theological faculty,
but are not on that account less audacious and for
midable. At bottom, it aims at all religions.
"Sambien," says one of his characters, "I wished
you could have seen how they remove the grains of
1 Pantagruel, bk. iv. chap, xxxii.
2 Copley Christi, Etienne Dolet, the Martyr of the Renaissance.
Upon the question of Etienne Dolet, see M. Duval-Arnauld's
interesting article in the Aumzaine, 1st August 1898.
3 De scandalis. Geneva, 1550.
sand that they find from each other's hands. One
boasts that he has more than his companion ; the
other tells him that it is not real sand." To present
Jesus Christ in the character of Mercury, and the
Bible under the allegory of the philosopher's stone,
to parody passages of the Gospels in the most
familiar manner is, as has been remarked, " to com
pose a literary burlesque with sacred things," and to
be the forerunner of Bayle or Voltaire by reason of a
scepticism similar to theirs.1
Such, then, was the group of French unbelievers.
It was in short a limited group that only distantly
recalls that furnished by Italy.2 But by the side of
the former there came into existence another group,
which we may call that of the protestantisers. The
man who is looked upon as the patriarch of the
French Reformation was, as everyone knows, Lefevre
d'Etaples, a professor of mathematics, who took up
the study of exegesis.3
He exemplifies to a marvellous degree that state
of mind of which I tried just now to give some indica
tions, of that charm in a word so noble that we
recognise it with admiration in certain of our con
temporaries as bringing passionate lovers of profane
letters to the study of religious problems and sacred
literature. " I have been attached for a long time,"
he writes, "to the humanities, and divine studies I
have hardly tasted with my lips : for they are vener
able and should not be rashly approached. But
1 Ad. Cheneviere, Bonaventure des Pcriers, sa vie, ses poesies.
Paris, 1886. Cf. Le mourner, he. cit. p. 304.
2 Hauser, art. cit. p. 292 : " There existed, then, a sect of non-
Christians so numerous that it was thought necessary to ask Calvin
to write a treatise against them."
3 Grof, Essai sur la vie et les dcrits de Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples.
Strasburg, 1842.
already, in the distance, a light so brilliant has met
my gaze that humane teachings seem dark to me in
comparison with divine studies, while the latter seem
to exhale a perfume, the sweetness of which is
equalled by nothing on earth."
In 1512 he published his Commentaire sur les
Epitres de saint Paul, in which he already affirms
the exclusive authority of Holy Scripture and salva
tion by faith alone. He believes that the water of
baptism is only a sign of justification and that the
Mass is little more than a commemoration of a single
sacrifice. His Commentaire latin sur les Evangiles,
published in 1522, may be considered the first mani
festation of the Reformation in France.
Lefevre d'Etaples exercised an incontestable influ
ence over many men of his generation : Bude,
Vatable, Clichtoue, Ge"rard Roussel, Farel, Cop, and
Etienne Poncher, who separated later on, some going
as far as Protestantism, the others returning to
In 1521 Briconnet, Bishop of Meaux, gathered
around him Lefevre d'Etaples and his friends, who
were protected by the king and his sister Marguerite
of Navarre, which latter had given an enthusiastic
welcome to the efforts of Lefevre d'Etaples and the
religious opinions of Gerard Roussel. Briconnet
was a bishop after their own hearts ; he caused the
disciples of Lefevre to undertake a commentary on
the Gospels, and when the Sorbonne interfered with
the latter, he made him his vicar-general. In his
independence Briconnet neither wished to go nor
went as far as heresy. When he saw danger he knew
how to draw back and remain faithful to the Church.
I have spoken of Marguerite of Navarre. She
represents, and prolongs in the first part of the
sixteenth century, the humanism of the fifteenth,
but she renews and revives it with philosophic
and moral thought with which even her tales, and
especially her poems, are imbued. She was a true
daughter of the Renaissanceof the Italian Re
naissance and the Germana disciple of Plato
through Marsilio Ficino and Nicholas of Cusa ; a
learned woman, the friend of humanists and of even
the boldest thinkers, she was nevertheless rather a
reflection than a leader of the intellectual movement
of her time.1
Was she really a Protestant ? No. She had ex
perienced the influence of Luther and Calvin. She
shrank from certain Catholic tendencies. In the
comedy that she caused to be played at Mont-de-
Marsan in 1547, she united in the character of the
Superstitieuse everything of the strongest sort that
could be written against the practices of Catholic
worship. She decried the worship of the Virgin, as
may be seen in the Miroir de tame pecheresse. She
extols justification by faith at the expense of works.
She was in sympathy with the reformed, therefore
she took their part when they were persecuted. But
all that was due only to a state of tendencieseven
rather vague tendencies ; she died a Catholic.
These humanist reformers were for the most part
peaceful ; 2 they desired a certain renewing, a certain
regeneration of the Church, but they had no intention
of breaking with her.
1 Abel Lefranc, Les uties religieuses de Marguerite de Navarre,
d'apres son ceuvre poitique. Paris, 1898. Cf. Lemounier, op. cit. I.
v. chap. i.
2 M. Bouisson and M. Hauser treat them freely as timorous and
self-interested ; M. Hauser recognises that the question of doctrine
in many instances was a mere pose.
Their case was similar to that of the best among
the German and English humanists.
Such was the Renaissance in Germany, England,
and France, that is to say, in the countries which, with
Italy, opened up the path to the new civilisation. It
was much less far-reaching, much less immoral, and
much less pagan, and consequently much more easily
reconciled with Christianity than in Italy. One can
understand how it might seduce not only worldly
prelates and a few sceptics, but even bishops who
were truly devoted to their spiritual mission. We
are already enabled to catch a glimpse of the
Christian solution of the intellectual and moral
problem that was proposed at the dawn of the six
teenth centurya solution for which the state of
Italy, as you will acknowledge, hardly allowed us to
hope ; a solution which France, after much groping,
was to have the happiness and honour of finding.
Why, and to what extent, did the Papacy, and often
the Episcopate, favour the movement of the
Renaissance ? *
There is no doubt that humanism in Italy led to
the rise of a semi-paganism, immoral and rationalistic,
and that in other countries it certainly favoured the
beginnings of Protestant heresy.
This is established not only by history ; contem
porary persons are themselves conscious of it, as I
set myself to show in the two preceding lectures.
" Can you deny," writes Prince Alberto de Carpi to
Erasmus, "that in your countryas has long been
the case in Italywhenever the pretended belleslettres
are studied with exclusive ardour and the old
philosophical and theological systems are despised, a
sad confusion arises between the truths of Christianity
and the maxims of paganism ? This regrettable dis
order spreads everywhere ; the spirit of discord is
master of minds, and morals no longer agree in any
wise with the moral precepts of Christianity."2
Erasmus himself wrote to Fabricius Capito on the
26th February 1516 : " One scruple alone restrains
my mind : that paganism seeks to rise again under
1 The bibliography is the same as that of Chapter I. One may
add: Goyau, Perate and Fabre, Le Vatican. Paris, 1895. Muntz,
Les arts d la cour des Popes pendant le XV' et XVI' siecles. Paris,
1878-1879. 2 vols. Rio, De FArt chrUien. Paris, 1867. 4 vols.
2 Lucubrationes, p. 72. See Janssen, History of the German People,
vol. iii. end of chap. i. Eng. trans. Kegan Paul.
cover of classical literature : there are Christians who
recognise Jesus Christ only outwardly, and live in an
inward atmosphere of heathenism." *
Moreover, many statesmen were of the same opinion.
Thus the Constable de Montmorency, according to
Regnier de la Planche in his State of France under
Francis II., " was of opinion that literature had
engendered heresy and increased the number of
Lutherans who were in the kingdom, wherefore he
held scholars and their books in small esteem."2
Now, the popes in Rome and many high dignitaries
of the Church in the various states of Christendom
afforded protection to humanism and the Renaissance
in general. Ihey were therefore, though possibly
unconsciously, and without foreseeing the trend of
their attitude, the actual accomplices of a movement
which, in part at least, came into opposition with the
Church, her system of morals, and her teaching.
This is the opinion of certain excellent Catholics.
In the sixteenth century, Prince Alberto de Carpi
wrote : " Ecclesiastical and secular princes are now
reaping the fruits of that seed they sowed broadcast
or at least protected in its growth. The poets
(humanists) have done most to excite the German
revolt against the Church and society. They have
encouraged all those violations of equity which we
witness every day. But who supported them ? The
dignitaries of the Church, even those of the highest
rank. They entertained at their voluptuous courts
these people of semi-pagan leanings, who cast scorn on
all that remained dear to the people, and had no aim
but to demolish the whole present order of things." s
1 Erasmus, Opera, vol. iii. ep. 207, p. 189.
2 Regnier de la Planche, vol. ii. p. 170.
3 Lucubrationes, p. 49.
The Prince of Carpi might have added, says
Janssen, that " the poisonous brood of poets had found
encouragement and protection at Rome long before
Germany welcomed them, and that the Renaissance
had wielded its seductive rule in Italy long before it
received any countenance in Germany."
To what extent is this accusation well founded ?
Or in other words : In what measure did the popes
and the high dignitaries of the Church bestow favour
upon humanism and the Renaissance ? Did they
overstep, even accidentally, the limits imposed upon
them by Christian prudence ? What conclusions are
we to draw from their attitude, and on what grounds
are we to explain it ? Such are the questions I
undertake to answer to-day.
The popes' protection of humanism is a fact so
well known that it hardly needs demonstration.
Humanism penetrated the Roman Curia when the
great Western schism was at its height, that is to
say, in the most troubled period of Church history.
Innocent VII., by a bull of 1406, undertakes to
restore the Roman University founded by Boniface
VIII. " There is not on earth," says this bull, " a
more eminent and illustrious city than Rome, nor
one in which the studies we desire to restore have
longer flourished, for here was Latin literature
founded ; here civil law was committed to writing
and delivered to the nations ; here also is the seat of
canon law. Every kind of wisdom and learning took
birth in Rome, or was received in Rome from the
Greeks. While other cities teach foreign sciences,
Rome teaches only that which is her own." *
1 Pastor, History of the Popes (English trans, published by Messrs
Kegan Paul), vol. i. p. 166. Cf. Denifle Universitaeten, vol. i. p. 312,
The same pope filled his court with humanists.
He found Poggio there, and he placed there Leon
ardo Bruni (Leonardo Aretino, a Christian who
must not be confounded with Pietro Aretino), and
Pietro-Paolo Vergerio, who was charged with the
delivery of a sermon on the unity of the Church
before the cardinals assembled in conclave for the
election of Gregory XII., and took advantage of the
occasion to tell them some hard truths to their faces.
Among other new humanists introduced by Gregory
XII. was Antonio Loschi of Florence, who substi
tuted the Ciceronian for the old style in the pontifical
Martin* V., who was elected by the Council of Con
stance, kept personally aloof from the humanist move
ment. The representatives of the literary Renaissance
at his court obtained nevertheless greater influence,
the increase of which was due to the immense impulse
given to the movement by the Council. Voigt, the
Protestant historian of humanism, writes : " The
Council of Constance gave great impetus to know
ledge in various countries, and to the study of
manuscripts ; a new proof of the influence of those
great ecclesiastical sessions towards the mutual
understanding of the nations, an influence that
cannot be over-estimated. Until the two great re
forming Councils of Constance and Basle humanism
had been exclusively Italian, but there it gained the
notice of the world, and began to cast rays, some
times thin and feeble enough, upon the ultramontane
people." -
A long list of humanists could already be drawn up
of pontifical secretaries present at Constance : Manuel
1 Voigt, Wiederbebelung des classischen Alterthums, 2nd ed. vol. i.
p. 236.
Chrysoloras, a Greek scholar who died during the
session, Leonardo Bruni, Poggio, Vergerio, and others,
when they were tired of theological discussions in
which they took little pleasure, they went from one
monastery to another seeking for Latin manuscripts,
and made precious discoveries which aroused the
immense joy of their contemporaries.1
Eugenius IV., like Martin V., took no actual part
in the movement of the Renaissance, but being obliged
to leave Rome, he made in Florence, then the greatest
centre of intellectual and artistic activity, a long
sojourn not devoid of consequences. He introduced
among the apostolical secretaries Flavio Biondo
(Blondus), who, in virtue of his historical and de
scriptive study of the city of Rome (Roma instaurata),
was the true founder of the science of archaeology.
Biondo, as a moral and Christian humanist, was as
much interested in Christian as in Pagan Rome.
(Poggio, on the contrary, in his Peregrinations in
Rome passes in systematic silence all that might recall
Christian Rome.) The thought of the holy treasures
preserved in the Eternal City consoled him for those
ruins which met his gaze at every step.
The Sacred College was gradually filled with
humanists, among whom shone Orsini, Albergati,
Cesarini, Prospero Colonna, Capranica, and Landriani.
The last two had admirable libraries the manuscripts
of which they liberally placed at the disposal of
students. We mention particularly the famous
Greek cardinal, Bessarion, a zealous book collector,
a conscientious writer, and the friend and protector
of men of letters. His palace became a meetingplace
of all the most distinguished Greek and Italian
scholars, who formed a sort of academy around him.
1 Pastor, vol. i. p. 257. English trans, as cited.
He sought out Greek manuscripts in order to save
the intellectual works of his native land from the
wreck of the oriental world ; he gave these manu
scripts to the city of Venice four years before his
death. The time was at hand when the pontifical
throne itself would be occupied by a humanist. It
came in the middle of the fifteenth century, at the
death of Eugenius IV.
In Tomaso ParentucelliNicholas V.humanism
took possession of the see of St Peter.1 The election
was received by the humanists with the greatest en
thusiasm. When the Curia was at Florence, Tomaso
Parentucelli had lived in the midst of them, and had
found nothing finer than the splendour surrounding
art and science in that city ; he thought it unworthy
that men of letters and artists should be left in want,
and he often said that if he became rich, he would
devote all his possessions to books and monuments of
art. It is even related that although he was a monk,
he did not wait for fortune to satisfy his passion, but
got into debt that he might obtain precious manu
scripts ! 2 He himself was not a writer ; he was
gifted with a great memory and very wide intelli
gence ; he was an ardent collector, an amateur
interested in all things. Such a man was a born
protector of men of letters ; he induced as many as
possible to come to Rome, especially Florentines.
Voigt says of him "that he was to Rome what
Cosmo de Medici was to Florence."
His first claim to the title of humanist is to have
caused the translation into Latin of whole or part of
the works of Homer, Strabo, Herodotus, Thucydides,
1 See Guirand, L'Eglise el les Origines de la Renaissance, chap. viii. ;
Nicolas V. el les Arts, chap. ix. ; Nicolas V. et FHumanisme.
2 fiurckhardt, op. ck. vol. i. p. 232.
Xenophon, Diodorus, Aristotle, and Plato. The
second, which is still stronger, is to have willed that
the Vatican should provide definite shelter for the
admirable monuments of Greek and Latin genius
and to have founded the Vatican Library for that
purpose.1 He displayed unequalled ardour in the
formation of the precious collection the plan of which
he had conceived ; he sent agents into Italy and the
whole of Europe, and after the capture of Constan
tinople into the Orient, to collect manuscripts, or to
copy those they could not obtain. Thus in a com
paratively short time he formed a library, unique of
its sort, which he wished to be public and accessible
to all scholars. The exact number of manuscripts
collected by Nicholas V. is unknown ; most authors,
on the authority of Manetti and Vespasiano da
Bisticci, gave five thousand, but this estimate seems
to be greatly exaggerated. Muntz gives 824 for the
Latin manuscripts, and Pastor 807 ; the number of
Greek manuscripts is unknown. Nevertheless, even
these last figures are high for the middle of the
fifteenth century (1447-1453).
It was the great happiness of Nicholas V. to live
in the midst of his books.
On the whole, despite certain imprudences which
we cannot overlook, Nicholas V. remains one of the
purest figures of the Renaissance. Although he sets
great store by the profane authors, he gives a higher
place not only to Scripture, but also to the Fathers ;
he sends a complete copy of the works of Tertullian
from Germany to Florence, brings back a copy of
Saint Leo the Great's sermons and Saint Thomas's
1 Muntz and Fabre, La bibliotheque du Vatican an XV* stick,
Paris, 1887, and in the volume entitled The Vatican, study of
P. Fabre on the Vatican Library.
commentary on the Gospel of Saint Matthew ; and
his favourite author is Saint Augustine. Finally and
above all, he is prompted by Christian charity to
protect artists and scholars.
His ambition was, as witness his last words to his
cardinalsamplified, doubtless, by his biographer1
that Rome, the centre of religion, should become also
that of letters and the arts. He was persuaded that
the faith of the nations needed reawakening and
sustaining by the immense glory of Rome. An idea
that is not without danger, but is certainly right in a
With Nicholas V. the first era of humanism and the
Renaissance came to a close.
Had the popes, so far, crossed the bounds set for
them by Christian sentiment and the true interests of
the Church ? We must not fear to admit that this
was, in a small degree, the case.

Since the beginning, esteem of the literary worth
of the humanists preponderated too much over the
consideration of their moral worth. Under Boniface
IX., that is, at the beginning of the fifteenth century,
Poggio was enrolled among the apostolical secretaries,
and he retained this lucrative post under eight popes,
and so held it for half-a-century. And we have seen
the sort of man he was in respect of morals and
During the Council of Constance, Poggio and
several of his friends formed a society which met
every evening to hold scandalous and obscene dis
course and to shower mockery upon the clergy.
1 Manetti, Vita Nicolai V., in Muratori, Script, ret. Italic, vol. iii.
2nd part, p. 947.
1 Pastor, vol. i. p. 167. English trans.
This society met in the very palace of the Pope
whom they spared less than all the others.1
Eugenius IV. was personally strict. Nevertheless,
he introduced into the Roman court a number of
humanists whose conduct and opinions were more
than suspicioussuch as Marsuppini, who rejected
the succour of religion on his death-bed. At least
Eugenius IV. energetically refused to allow Lorenzo
Valla, the author of the treatise De Voluptate, to
re-enter Rome, and he forbade the reading of Beccadelli's
infamous book under pain of excommunication.
But his successor, Nicholas V., had not the same
scruples : he surrounded himself with the most pagan
humanists, and gave to them without measure.
Among these were Poggio, Filelfo, Marsuppini,
and Valla himself, whom he made notary apostolic,
and charged with the translation of Thucydides into
The best among the cardinals did not scruple to
contract the most intimate relations with them, even
with Beccadelli, but the humanists were held in such
general favour that public opinion was not offended.
Certain religious Orders, however, began to raise
their voices against this state of things. The con
spiracy of Stephano Porcaro, which was inspired by
the ideas and recollection of the institutions of
antiquity, showed Nicholas V. himself that the
danger was not as imaginary as he liked to think.
We need not be surprised that a reaction took
place less than fifteen years after his death.
It began with the pontificate of Calixtus III., upon
whom the humanists, who were not to be consoled
for the death of Nicholas V., uttered the most extra
vagant judgments. One of them went so far as to
1 Voigt, op. cit. vol. ii. pp. 15, 416.
say that " Calixtus III. figures uselessly in the list
of popes."1 The necessities of the crusade against
the Turks, who had just captured Constantinople,
sufficiently justified Calixtus III. in not lavishing the
revenues of the Roman Church upon the humanists,
and even in melting down the gold and silver of
certain precious bindings.
The proof that Calixtus III. did not act wrongly
was the attitude of his successor, Pius II.that very
^Eneas Sylvius Piccolomini who had personified in
himself the different tendencies of the Renaissance !
At his election the humanists thought they saw the
inauguration of an era of unlimited bliss.2 Yet he
did not do much more for them than Calixtus III.,
although he had certain translations finished which
had been begun by Nicholas V., introduced a few
humanists into the college of abbreviators, brought
certain scholars to Rome, and protected certain poets.
It was not only the difficulties of the pontifical finance,
together with the dominating interest of the crusade,
that determined his line of conduct. It was due also
to his presentiment, born of intimate knowledge of
the dangers of the false Renaissance. Morally de
praved writers he banished pitilessly, and kept his
sympathy for those who retained the Christian spirit.
This converted humanist went nobly to his death at
Ancona, ready to lead in person the Christians against
the Turks.
Under Paul II. the struggle came to a crisis. This
was due to the fact that the Renaissance became
absolutely pagan. Christian ideas, which had till
1 L. Geiger, Renaissance und Humanismus, p. 139, and Pastor,
vol. ii. p. 330. English trans. See the letter of Filelfo to
Bessarion, Philelphi Epist. p. 102.
2 Pastor, vol. iii. p. 25. English trans.
then co-existed along with others, seemed to be for
the most part eliminated from the humanist mind.
Calixtus III. and Pius II. had felt the danger, but it
was still difficult to take measures against it. An
opportunity of acting was given to Paul II. by the
following incident.1 At the beginning of his reign
this pope wished to reorganise the college of abbreviators
; he suppressed a number of offices which Pius II.
had given to his proteges as a means of livelihood.
Indignation could go no further among the victims
of this measure. One of them, known as Platina,
wrote a pamphlet in the form of a letter to the Pope,
in which he said : " At the moment that without a
hearing you allowed yourself to despoil us of offices
bought by us with honourable intent, it became
allowable for us to complain of our unmerited dis
grace. Your refusal to hear us subjects us to
humiliation and ignominy ; we shall appeal to kings
and princes, and ask them to convoke a council before
which you will be obliged to justify your conduct and
say why you have robbed us of lawfully acquired
property." The letter concluded with these words :
" Your Holiness' servants, if the measure is repealed." 2
Paul II. did not treat the matter as a joke. Platina
was arrested and tortured ; the Pope spoke of having
him beheaded. At least he was shut up in a cold
dungeon, and on his release after four months he
was too weak to stand upright. They all chafed in
silence and awaited an opportunity for vengeance.
The malcontents and the paganising humanists met
together at the house of one their number, Pomponius
1 See Pastor upon this matter, vol. iv. chap. ii. p. 36. English
2 Platina, Opus de vitis ac gestis mtimorum Pontificum ad Sixtum, iv.
etc. etc. 1645, p. 767.
Laetus, a scholar famed in Rome for his talents and
eccentricity. No scholar had ever impregnated his
life and thought with such a degree of paganism. He
despised the Christian religion, and launched out into
violent orations against its ministers.
The reunions held at his house led to the formation
of a literary society, the " Roman Academy," the object
of which was the propagation of pure latinity. Those
who became members adopted ancient names ; they
looked upon themselves as a college of priests of
antiquity, having at their head a Pontifex Maximus,
a dignity given to Pomponius Laetus. They cele
brated certain pagan feasts, and some abandoned
themselves to the most repulsive vices, which were
but too highly honoured among the ancients. Finally,
they were republicans.
At the end of February 1468 the rumour of a plot
spread through Rome ; four members of the Roman
Academy were denounced to the Pope as ringleaders
of the conspiracy ; three succeeded in escaping, but
the wretched Platina was taken and imprisoned in
the castle of Saint Angelo together with certain
persons connected with the Academy.
The Pope was by no means uncertain as to his
attitude towards the anti-christian opinions and
immoral practices of these people, and the explana
tion he gave to the ambassadors of the Italian powers
was much to the purpose : he described the conspira
tors as heretics. The plot itself was much less clear,
and as we have no documents of the trial, but only
the narrative of Platina, we cannot judge of it with
any certainty, especially as Platina tells many false
hoods, particularly about his own part, which he
describes as heroic instead of merely pitiable.
Pomponius Lsetus, whose extradition the Pope
had demanded and obtained from Venice, was im
prisoned in the castle of Saint Angelo ; he also forgot
his stoical pose in the dungeon, and ended by yielding
to Paul II.1 ; Platina remained longer in prison.
Paul II. did not confine himself to a few individual
prosecutions : he took measures to restrain the study
of antiquity, especially of poets and historians. The
Roman Academy was dissolved.
In time the humanists were revenged upon the
Pope. Platina especially gratified his resentment
after the death of Paul II. in his Lives of the Popes.
He pictured him as a barbarian bitterly opposed to
all learning. That is false ; Paul II. was certainly
no humanist of the type of Nicholas V., but he pro
tected many scholars and assisted the introduction
and spread of printing in Italy with all his power.
But the efforts of Paul II. could have no very
great result ; the evil was undoubtedly too deeprooted.
His successor, Sixtus IV. (1471), returned to the
traditions of Nicholas V. The Pope reorganised the
Vatican Library, and prosecuted the search for manu
scripts with such immense enthusiasm that more than
a thousand were acquired within ten years ; and
whom did he make chief of the library? Platina
himself ! He brought as many humanists as possible
to Rome ; he wished to induce the prince of Platonic
philosophers, Marsilio Ficino, to come ; but the latter
owed so much to the Medicis that he could not make
up his mind to leave them.
Sixtus IV. reopened the Roman Academy. He
let Pomponius Laetus take up his lessons thenceforth
without the least hindrance to his teaching. Finally,
1 Defensio Pomponii Leeti in carceribus et confessio, MSS. of the
Vatican Library, quoted by Pastor, vol. xii. English trans.
he charged Platina with the writing of his History
oj the Popes, the dedication of which he accepted.
Platina did not content himself with a violent attack
upon Paul II. ; he introduced his criticisms upon the
religious situation of his own time into his biographies
of popes of other epochs. At the service of the
anniversary of Platina's death, held in Saint Mary
Major, Pomponius Laetus (after Mass) ascended the
pulpit and delivered the funeral oration of his friend ;
then, from the same pulpit, a poet read an elegy on
the death of Platina. This was indeed the revenge
and triumph of humanism.1
With Sixtus IV. we enter that series of political
popes with leanings towards humanism. They were,
alas, worldly, and sometimes worse. This was the
era of Alexander VI. and Julius II. There was no
likelihood of their repressing the excesses of humanism.
It has been said that " the fifteenth century knew the
writings of the dearly loved antiquity better than
its works of art ; but in the first years of the new
century the works of art, one after another, emerged
from the soil of Rome, where their pure beauty had
been preserved in the depths of sleep for the eyes of
enthusiastic worshippers."2
Coming to Leo X. we reach the culminating point.
In the permission given for the printing of Tacitus,
which has just been discovered, the Pope writes en
thusiastically that " great authors are the rule of life
and the consolation of sorrow, that the protection of
scholars and the acquisition of excellent books always
seemed to him one of the noblest duties, and that he
thanked heaven for allowing him to serve humanity
by assisting the publication of this book."
1 Pastor, vol. iv. p. 420. English trans.
2 Le Vatican of M. Perate, p. 581.
He was surrounded, indeed besieged, by poets.
They followed him wherever he went, in church,
in the palace, in the theatre, even into his private
apartments. Those who did not succeed in accosting
him tried at least to interest him in their favour by
petitions in which every deity of Olympus had a
place. Leo X. lavished money upon them. You
know the story of the purple velvet purse, containing
rouleaux of gold of different sizes, from which he
took at random. But the improvisers in Latin who
enlivened his reports received blows from a whip
when they made verses too haltingly.
It has been often said that the neo-paganism of the
Renaissance under Leo X. reached to the sovereign
pontiff himself, and that this Pope was a Christian
neither in morals nor doctrine. That is not true.
Leo X. was of unimpeachable morality ; there are
no grounds for asserting that he lacked faith, and he
gave certain proofs of piety. Nevertheless, it is true
that although he was intended for the Church from
childhood, and was overloaded with benefices, he had
neither the habits nor the inclinations of an ecclesiastic.
We are astonished and troubled by the account of
certain feasts and certain comedies played in his pres
ence, as well as by the coarseness of some of his amuse
ments. The incomparable splendour which Rome at
that time owed to him cannot make us forget them.
Six years after the death of Leo X. hardly any of
this splendour remained. The bands of the German
Frondsberg and of the French traitor, the Constable
de Bourbon, had passed over Rome like a fearful
whirlwind ; the humanists were scattered ; and Rome,
after the ordeal, was going to be restored entirely to
her religious role.
The spectacle afforded us by Rome, with the char
acter of grandeur and universality peculiar to it, may
be seen in miniature at many episcopal courts. It
would indeed be interesting to study this if we might
enter into such details. Let us confine ourselves to
a few examples.
The inaugurator of the movement of the Renais
sance in Germany was a cardinal, the learned Nicholas
of Cusa He learnt to love the classical authors in
his youth at the school of the Brothers of the Common
Life, at Deventer ; he had acquired knowledge of
the Greek language in Italy ; close acquaintance with
Plato and Aristotle had changed what was at first
only a marked liking, to an enthusiasm " at ease only
when it could communicate itself to the greatest
possible number of people." He strove with in
defatigable zeal to restore to honour the study of
those philosophers whom he considered especially
well adapted to the formation of minds.1
Let us remark next Johann von Dahlberg, Bishop
of Worms, who became, at Worms and at Heidelberg,
the centre of men of letters, founded a chair of Greek,
and collected a library of the classics.
Then there is Leo X.'s contemporary and emula
tor, Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz (Mayence), a
prince full of vanity, who thought to make his palace
the haunt of humanists and famous poets and to
become the Medici of Germany. " What scholar is
there among us whom Albrecht does not know?"
wrote Ulrich von Hutten ; " what learned and cultured
man has ever praised him without receiving at once
a proof of his generosity, and without being honoured
with his patronage ? " He employed the chief artists
1 Much has been written on Nicholas of Cusa. (')'. Janssen, op.
cit. vol. i. p. 3. English trans.
of his time, and rewarded them in a princely style.
He collected the most celebrated musicians from all
parts, gave splendid entertainments, and made a
dazzling display of pomp. But the religious con
victions of this archbishop had little depth ; his moral
conduct was not worthy of respect ; he looked upon
the word scholastic as synonymous with barbarity,
and was enraptured with the "divine genius" of
Erasmus, who, as he said, had restored to theology
its ancient brightness, dimmed for so many cen
turies : he assured him of his protection. And
Erasmus, writing to Hutten, called the archbishop
"the finest ornament of Germany in the present
century." l
In England there was the primate himself, Warham,
Archbishop of Canterbury, of whom his correspondent
Erasmus has drawn such an attractive picture. His
purse was always open to men of letters, especially
Erasmus, to whom he paid an annual pension of a
thousand crowns. He approved and encouraged him
in his exegetical works, which he recommended
highly and passed on from bishop to bishop. He
protected Colet in like manner, and defended him
against the accusation of heresy which was brought
against him. Langton, Bishop of Winchester, and
Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, followed in Warham's
footsteps : they sent the most distinguished of their
young clerics to study in Italy.
Finally, in the midst of his innumerable political
occupations, Cardinal Wolsey founded Cardinal
College at Oxfordnow Christ Church. He invited
the most illustrious scholars of Europe to teach in it,
1 Upon Albrecht of Mainz and his court, cf. Hennes, Albrecht
von Brandenbourg, Mentz, 1858, and Janssen, op. cit. vol. ill. pp. 65-
69. English trans.
and set himself to get copies of the Vatican manu
scripts for the library.
In France there was the Bishop of Paris, Etienne
Poncher, who in 1513 took as secretary the famous
humanist and future cardinal, Jerome Al^andre ; it
was he who induced Francis I. to found the College
of France.
Later on there was Cardinal Charles de Lorraine,
who founded the University of Rheims, where Greek,
Latin, Hebrew, and Chaldaic were taught as at Paris.
He was the protector of la Ramee, and Etienne
Pasquier did not fear to say of him " that he was the
only support in his time of letters and teaching."1
Briconnet, Bishop of Meaux, in his zeal for the
protection of humanism, covered with his authority
the first humanists who leaned towards Protestantism.
Another Bishop of Paris, Jean du Bellay, was so
attracted by the Renaissance, that he called Rabelais's
book " a new gospel, and pre-eminently the book."
Such are the facts, and before I answer the objec
tion suggested by them, allow me to remark that they
answer with singular eloquence those who look upon
the Church as the born enemy of learning.
What conclusions can be drawn from this account ?
Let us first set aside the episcopates of the various
Christian nations. There was indeed a certain
amount of individual excess and imprudence, but on
the whole humanism was not anti- christian enough,
nor sufficiently widespread among the masses to
imply grave error of judgment and conduct in the
protection of it. And if humanism actually covered
the first steps of the Protestant Reformation, it did
so in virtue of circumstances which were independent
1 Quoted by Guillemin, Le Cardinal de Lorraine, p. 451.
of the humanists and their protectors. A good
humanism was possible, and indeed existed, which
sought only just and moderate reforms in religion.
The biographer of Cardinal Charles de Lorraine
recognises this in excellent terms :
" France did not ask better than to turn the in
tellectual movement to the advantage of learning
and civilisation, but it wished to attain this end with
out going by way of heretical reform and without
breaking with its past. It wished to leave the
narrow beaten track to which the Sorbonne confined
it without falling headlong into the temerities of the
Calvinistic school. The help of the temporal power
was needed for the maintenance of France in this
wise and fearless course of reasonable liberty. A
great and lofty mind was necessary to reconcile the
authority to the idea of new needs, and to open the
way to all lawful reforms under the protection of the
king. This was the part played by Charles de
Lorraine " *and by many of his brothers of the
The case of the popes is more serious and more
difficult to solve, first because the popes were re
sponsible for the teaching and government of the
whole Church, secondly because Italian humanism
became, as we have seen, quite opposed to the spirit
of Christianity.
The historian's first duty is to distinguish periods
and to avoid confusing different epochs. In the first
half of the fifteenth century, from Innocent VII. to
Nicholas V., humanism had as yet borne no fruits ;
there was merely a revival of letters. Though certain
individuals were from the beginning of almost pagan
morals and intellectual leanings, there were, on the
1 Guillemin, LejCardinal de Lorraine, p. 451.
other hand, many Christian humanists, therefore
humanism in itself cannot be blamed for the utter
demoralisation of certain of its followers. The popes
of this epoch can be reproached only with having
shown undue indulgence towards men who, outside
their literary talent, deserved no esteem. Assuredly,
they would have done better if they had been more
We must remember that these popes did not con
sider themselves confronted by a formal heresy, but
simply by isolated individual divergences of doctrine
which might often have been mistaken for pure
literary style or mannerism of expression.1 These
humanists often affected to be submissive sons of the
Church. In many instances such an affirmation was
nothing but hypocrisy, in others there was actually a
most singular confusion of opposite ideas and senti
ments. In short, the danger was not evident.
When it became so, at the end of the pontificate of
Nicholas V., the evil had been accomplished insensibly,
gradually, little by little ; the lettered and ruling
classes were, indeed, half pagan. Then the papacy
made a serious reactionary effort: Calixtus III., Pius
II., and especially Paul II. did their whole duty as
guardians of morals and doctrine.
But this first attempt miscarried ; on the one hand,
the evil was too deep to be checked thus, and on the
other the Papacy was swept along by the political
interests in which it was absorbed, and almost ceased
to struggle ; moreover, it was itself seduced to some
extent by Sixtus IV. and Leo X. But even then
1 Voigt says with reason : " Was it necessary to make an outcry
because an orator in the heat of the discourse had let slip some form
of solemn affirmation that had been in use among the Romans?
etc." Wiederbebelung,\etc,, vol. ii. p. 479.
the pontiffs, though blameworthy by reason of the
examples they set, did not fail in their doctrinal
Sixtus IV. was more anxious to enrich the Vatican
Library with religious works than with classical
It was Leo X., the Pope who was, as it were, the
incarnation of the Renaissance, who at the Lateran
Council in 1513 energetically condemned all the false
teaching that had crept into men's mind's concerning
the soul, its nature and immortality. It was he who
in the same council recommended all masters of
philosophy to fight these errors without respite, to
refute the objections of the incredulous, and to show
the truth of Christian doctrine on this important
subject. In this way he proclaimed at once the evil
that had been done and the will to remedy it.
After the sack of Rome in 1527, the dispersion of
the humanists, and the death of Clement VII., the
Papacy did not cease taking the most energetic
measures to safeguard faith and morals: this led to
its being heaped with accusations of intolerance, for
in the eyes of certain people the Papacy is always at
fault, do what it may.
Moreover, if the Catholic Church exhibited greater
energy against the Reformation than against the
Renaissance, it was not only on account of the times
and the experience she had acquired, but because it
was easier to oppose an absolute denial of Christianity
than another form of it. Complete Christianity was
easily opposed against this complete denial of it ; but
what weapon was adequate for the struggle if
Christianity itself were allowed to vary ? Primitive
Protestantism was at open enmity with the laws of
nature and reason and therefore lacked purchase
against the rationalistic naturalism of the Renaissance.
From the moment the Reformation allied itself with
the Renaissance, or allowed the latter to enter its
ranks, it was virtually conquered ; and this is what
has happened in the end.
This was the exact part played by the popes
towards humanism at the different epochs of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Can it be said that
their responsibility for the demoralisation and unchristianising
of Italy was proportionate to the
measure in which they protected humanism ? Hardly ;
for, as I have shown, the influence of antiquity was
neither the only nor the principal agent in this de
moralisation and unchristianising. It was social
disorder, tyranny on the one hand and anarchy on
the other that did most harm. The Italians despised
laws because their sovereigns, whatever their titles,
were not legitimate ; they respected nothing because
hardly anything they saw was worthy of respect ;
they believed only in cunning and force because they
saw during nearly a century that force and cunning
alone gained a reward.
Now the Papacy was not responsible for that de
plorable state of things ; without doubt, it failed in
Italy, but it was not the Papacy's fault that Philippe
le Bel violated Boniface VIII., and let loose the
ultramontane enemies of the Papacy, or that tyrants
and partisans obliged the popes to seek refuge at
The excessive development of personality, the
lengths to which the cult of individuality was carried,
was also an evil, social as well as personal : the life of
society is especially dependent upon association, or
the exercise of the social virtues, which may be
summed up in the one word sacrifice. In the same
way, the individual, if he does not want to be an
unrestrained and dangerous egoist, must practise
moderation and restraint, or, to sum up again in one
word, self-sacrifice.
It was by making their lives a continual protest
against excess of individualism that the Jesuits of the
sixteenth century contributed so strongly to the
restoration of Catholic society. But the popes were
no more responsible for that excess of individualism
than for the social and political condition to which it
was due.
And now let us ask ourselves if the limited re
sponsibility they incurred in the protection of
humanism was not largely outweighed by the con
sequent advantages to the Church.
I will not say that they should have stood well
with the humanists on account of the latter's power
and their strong influence upon public opinion. That
would have been rather worldly : an authority in the
moral order does better to defy its dangerous enemies
than to flatter them.
But, I ask you, is there not a certain grandeur in
the solicitude of the popes for what they considered,
with their contemporaries, the progress of science, of
letters, of civilisation itself, in such exceedingly diffi
cult times as those of the great western schism, of the
Councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basle ?
Did not the popes look upon the culture of their
times with imposing confidence? Nicholas V., for
example, was calmly confident as to the lot of the
Church because multitudes of learned men lent her
their aid.1 Was he so far wrong when he said that
1 This consideration strikes Burckhardt himself as remarkable,
despite his hostility to the Papacy. Vol. i. p. 274. Cf. Pastor, op.
cii. vol. i. p. 56. Eng. trans.
although the Church possessed within herself suffi
cient title to require respect and obedience, yet it was
necessary that men should see her shine with a certain
external glory especially with that given by art and
learning ?
Is it nothing that Rome was at the beginning of
the sixteenth century for twenty years " the mistress
of the world, not merely as in the time of the
emperors, by the brutal force of arms, but by the
power and conquering beauty of art " ? *
What would have been said, what would be said
to-day, if the Church had adopted a different attitude,
and had pitilessly branded and censured this intellec
tual movement, this renewal of literature and art ?
How she would be denounced as the enemy of
civilisation and the progress of intellect ! We know
these declamations, and we hear them each time she
tries to hinder, not progression, but digression on the
part of human intellect.
We shall not reproach the Papacy with the attitude
she assumed towards the Renaissance. Essentially,
it is that of the Church herself, at least, that she
assumes definitely towards all great and lawful move
ments of human intellect ; sometimes, without doubt,
she challenges them at their birth, but she does not
bind herself to frown upon them : she assimilates
what is good and compatible with her teaching ; and
is not this procedure the reason why her doctrine,
though always the same at bottom, develops branches
and multiplies its aspects like a tree which draws sap
from the earth ?
It is the same with intellectual changes as with
political and social ; they are inevitable, and they
cannot, alas, be achieved without temporary excesses.
1 Le Vatican, Prat6, p. 529.
This is a law of our humanity, which is at once pro
gressive and fallible. The Church knows it : she is
always there with her principles and dogmas, some
times frowning and sometimes smiling at the efforts
she sees, ready to gather, once the storm is past, all
the good grain the wind has sown and to obtain good
fruit therefrom.
During the reading of these lectures, a thousand
comparisons must have been made between the
intellectual condition in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries and that of our contemporaries, the same
questions have been raised, and sometimes the same
solutions proposed. The Catholic Church, already
threatened by the same enemies, has already run the
same risks.
What an encouragement for the great number of
distinguished men who are to-day intent upon the
problem of uniting progress, science, and faith, to
have those enlightened popes of the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries for their models and guarantees I
They evidently thought the union was possible ; and
they believed that, in spite of present and certain
dangers, it was not right to opposeif its furtherance
was of momenta lawful intellectual movement
towards an object excellent in itself, namely, progress
in knowledge and in attainment of the true and the
beautiful. The modern mind is directed by an in
vincible force to the study of men and things ; it
looks upon it as its most noble mission. When and
how will this study lead the mind back to God?
This is the secret of time and of Providence it
self. But we may dare expect that it will be led
back, and many indications already strengthen our
The Middle Ages found a solution in accord with
the state of their knowledge, and Saint Thomas
Aquinas gave sublime expression to it.
This solution, though entirely adequate on the
points it had established, was no longer satisfactory
in the fifteenth century in face of so many scientific
discoveries and such profound changes in the political
and social order.
The Renaissance, therefore, set itself to find a more
complete solution ; it did not give it to the Italians,
because they were too far demoralised, and had lost
the Christian spirit ; it gave it neither to the Germans
nor to the English, because in their case it was associ
ated with a religious revolt which freed them from
the principle of authoritya necessary safeguard
of the intellect which is always prone to go astray.
It was France which in the seventeenth century
found out how to blend the Christian and the ancient
spirits in all harmony ; from this union was born the
modern spirit in so far as it is good.
But the great questions have again changed their
form ; it is said that answers have been found to the
answers supplied by the seventeenth century ; more
over, they have been multiplied by the progress in
discovery, science, and criticism, and hitherto unset
problems must be solved. The Christian idea is
menaced anew in the name of independent reason,
of nature, and of a better understanding of history.
Need we then lose courage and give up all for lost,
or enclose ourselves without more care for others
in the ivory tower of our personal faith ? No ; it
belongs to the Christian scholars of to-day to discover
and set forth the necessary solutions under the kindly
and unfeared supervision of the government of the
Church and to make another blending of scientific,
philosophical, moral, and religious truths. Let us
not fear for Christianity ! We know from the ex
perience of the past that great causes do not perish
so long as someone stands up for their defence ; and
we have among us, thank God, many men of science
who are also men of faith.
The birth of Protestantism in Germany Why and
how several European nations became Protestant 1
What is the history of the religious schism that still
divides Christianity? What was the beginning of
that other form of the Christian religion which is
called Protestantism, and how did it become estab
lished in opposition to the Catholic Church ? This
is the difficult and sad problem we are about to con
sider; a problem which will present itself under
various aspects in the following lectures. Between
the crisis of Arianism in the fourth and fifth centuries
and that of contemporary rationalism there has been
none other so serious in the history of the Church ;
for the Greek schism deplorable as it was, at least
did not impair the essence of Christian teaching.
This crisis deserves, therefore, all our attention ;
and I do not hesitate to add that the study we shall
make of it has an immediate and present interest for
us, for there is an intimate connection between that
crisis and the religious problem which in such a
disturbing way confronts our contemporaries.
Assuredly if we consider its doctrine and theology,
its system and homogeneity, we see clearly that
Protestantism is no longer the principal danger of
the Catholic Church. There are still Protestants,
but there is hardly left any system of Protestant
1 The bibliography concerning each nation will .be found at the
heads of sections.
theology. The antagonism consequent upon so
many confessions of faith has done its work. In
spite of the efforts made in the seventeenth century
the dogmatic theology of Protestantism has not
become a powerful synthetic system, analogous to our
Catholic theology, but has gradually disintegrated.
What remains is no serious danger.
It is perhaps otherwise with that aggressive, rest
less Protestantism which tries so hard to enrol the
children of the people in its schools, and to bring the
poor to its meeting-houses ; with that Protestantism
which appeals less to the intellect than to want.
Its instrument is gold, which is powerless to convince,
but able to obtain self-interested recruits among the
indigent classes of our great towns, or in the fields
of our poorer provinces : it is quick to take advantage
of discontent and to exploit those hateful passions
always ready to discover themselves.1
It is otherwise also with political Protestantism
which, in France, under a disguise of false liberalism,
has inspired so many laws during the last twentyfive
years, has sought to strike at Catholicism and
has given a blow to the very spirit of Christianity.
To-day it has thrown off the mask, and no longer
disguises its sectarian hatred : in fact its leaders,
without entirely putting off the cloak of hypocrisy
which suits them so well, have allied themselves in
all legislative, religious, and educational measures
with the worst enemies of that God whom they
pretend to serve so purely and so nobly.
1 We have ourselves witnessed this in different parts of France,
especially in Auvergne and around Paris ; members of the clergy
and sisters of charity bear witness to the same things in the
suburbs of Paris and other towns. See also the book of the Abbe
Martin, De I'avenir du Protestantisme et du Catholicisine, bk. iii.
chap. iii. : " Of the Protestant propaganda in Catholic countries."
Especially is it otherwise with that philosophical
and mystical Protestantism which is more a condition
of mind than a creed, and is so well calculated, by its
estimate of doctrine and religion, to seduce the vague,
wandering, illogical intellects of so many of our con
temporaries, even among those who say and believe
they are Catholics. I am not of those who deny
Protestant infiltrations 1 ; I verified their existence
long ago in the case of more than one of the faithful
and even of more than one priest. The Protestant
conquest is not an empty word : it threatens us, nay,
it is being accomplished before our eyes by means of
politics, education, and literature. The knowledge
of how it was established in the past will perhaps
equip us for a better defence in the present.
Do not think, however, that contemporary pre
possessions, though they be justified in the heart of
a Catholic and a priest, will influence my exposition
of history; I think I have already given proof
of my impartiality and scientific disinterestedness :
moreover, the further I advance in my career of
study the more strongly am I persuaded that God
does not need the lies of men to strengthen His
cause : numquid egct Deus mendacio vestro ?
Nor shall I depart, in spite of present bitterness,
from the respect and charity we owe to those whom
I am happy still to call our separated brethren.
Finally, how can I forget that there are those among
them whose moral life is worthy of all respect, who
have had the rare courage to side with the persecuted ?
1 offer my thanks to the latter; and sinceto use
Newman's beautiful expressionthey have not sinned
1 I do not mean that they are to be seen in everything, or that
I join in all the accusations made by the Reverend Father Fontaine
in his book, Les Infiltrations Protestantes.
against the light, I pray God to shed still brighter
and more convincing light upon the eyes of their
souls. Should my words reach them, may they be
helpful to them !
You know the theory of most Protestant historians
concerning the origin of the religious reformation of
the sixteenth century.1 It was, if they are to be
believed, the irresistible and spontaneous outburst of
the moral conscience of the people, driven to revolt
by the corruption of the Roman Church. This cor
ruption, they say, went far back ; the majority say
that it began in the fourth century, but some place
its origin as early as the second. The usurpations
and superstitions, nay, the abominations of Rome
multiplied and accumulated in the course of centuries :
they had tainted and soiled everything, when God,
taking pity on His Church, raised up two great
reformers, Luther and Calvin, who were the prophets
of a new era, the apostles of religion in spirit and
in truth, the revivers of the Christian life, and the
enlighteners of unfettered intellects : in every sense
they justified the famous Protestant device : Post
tenebras lux I
I do not speak of the points in this system which
are embarrassing from a Christian point of view ;
it is hardly necessary to point them out. It is useless
to say, as Protestant authors generally do, especially
in their books for use in schools, that " God watched
with love over the work of His well-beloved Son " % ;
1 Even to-day, in spite of so much objective historical research,
this theory is displayed in all its simplicity in otherwise learned
works, such as the Calvin of Pastor Doumergne.
* Vie de Luther (for the use of Protestant schools), by E. Haag,
p. 7.
for if God allowed the abomination of error and
corruption not only to enter but also to remain and
establish itself in the Church, and that for twelve
hundred years, can it be said that He watched over
His work with love ? What becomes in this case of
those promises of assistance that Jesus Christ so
solemnly made to His apostles ? And if He failed in
such a way ; or, in other words, if history as recounted
by Protestants convicts one of the fundamental utter
ances of Jesus Christ of non-fulfilment, is not serious
damage wrought to His authority, and consequently
to His Divinity ? The latter, it is true, is of little
importance nowadays to most French Protestants.
But true history is not that told by Protestants
and their intellectual adepts, who are so numerous
among the professors and the authors of manuals
used in the University.
The Protestant reformation was not a spontaneous
revolt of Christian conscience, or at most it was so
only in part, in a few individual and transient cases ;
it had been prepared long before its appearance by
a series of very important events. Dollinger, Janssen,
and, more recently, Evers, have shown that it was
the consequence of a political and national rather
than of a religious movement. In short, it was
definitely established and authorised by the will of
rulers who did not fear to support it by force, because
it was of service to them. This I will try to demon
strate as briefly as possible.
And first let us forestall a possible misunderstanding.
When I assert that the Protestant revolution was the
effect of many causes in which religion did not always
hold the chief place, I do not mean to say that the
Catholic Church of the sixteenth century had no need
of reform. The most Catholic contemporaries of
Luther and Calvin, beginning with Pope Adrian VI.,
the most resolute apologists of the seventeenth century,
with Bossuet the greatest of all at their head, and the
most devoted Church historians of the nineteenth
century, do not hesitate to recognise the fact and to
proclaim it when occasion calls for it.
For two centuries the Church had been passing
through a formidable crisis. From the beginning of
the fourteenth centurythe century of Philip the
Fair and the Emperor Louis of Bavariathe rupture
between the civil and ecclesiastical powers was pre
paring. This was largely influenced by the growth
of the national sentiment, and of the royal power,
which would brook neither a superior nor an equal.
Incessant disputes set Church and State at variance,
and divided the souls of the people between fealty to
two causes which seemed almost equally sacred to
them. The most serious blows had been struck at
the rights and independence of the Roman pontiff,
who was an exile from the Eternal City : the rebound
had been felt by the whole Church.
The long exile of the popes at Avignon had led
almost fatally to the great schism, with its scandalous
rivalry of popes, to withdrawals of obedience, and the
tendency of the national Churches to rule themselves
under the jealous supervision of the heads of states,
to the enfeebling and disorganising of the hierarchy :
the Papacy, being in dispute, was terribly undermined,
and the general disorder of Christendom was further
aggravated by war and public calamities.
Then throughout the West a cry was raised for the
reformation of the Church in its head and members.
It is possible, indeed it is true, that the grievances of
Christians were stated with excessive ardour, owing
to the animosity of some and the extreme enthusiasm
of others; but these grievances were not without
foundation : reform was necessary.
Long before the end of the fourteenth century it
had been sought by various means. Some had
surrendered themselves to mysticism, striving, by
the establishment of direct relations between their
souls and God, for that intimate union with the
Godhead which is the supreme end of the Christian
life, trying even at times to do without a Church
which to some seemed no longer able to guide men
into the way of salvation. Others had wholly given
themselves up to heresy: WyclifF, John Huss, and
Jerome of Prague, for instance, were the representa
tives at once of a theological system originating in
learned universities, and of national, social, and political
aspirations, in virtue of which they were bitterly hostile
to the constitution of the established Church. Finally
other much more moderate reformers were orthodox
in all their intentions, but were led away by the
unhappy circumstances under which the Church
laboured into a false conception of the rights of
councils and popes : these latter constituted the
celebrated school of the doctors of Paris.
At the beginning of the fifteenth century we see
this reforming party at work. That great and glorious
assemblage of the Christian world, the Council of
Constance, gave back her unity to the Church, re
established provisional peace by concluding concordats
with the various nations, and arranged the return to
Rome of Martin V., the Pope they had elected ; and
the latter went back to Rome prepared to restore
the Roman state and the rights of the successor of
At the completion of its labours the Council of
Constance was full of hope. I wish I could say:
that hope was not vain hope : the Church has reformed
herself and has become again the mistress of the souls
and wills of men. Alas ! at the end of a century, I
see Italy a prey to the semi-pagan rationalism of the
Renaissance, and Germany and other nations going
over to Protestantism.
The fifteenth century should have been that of the
Catholic reformation : why was it not so ?
Because the circumstances were such that the
Papacy found itself at first, and for a considerable
time, obliged to concentrate its efforts on the restora
tion in the Western world of the true understanding
of the Church's constitution and of the papal power ;
and that, in spite of the opposition of a councilthat
of Baslewhich was supported by a large section of
Christian opinion ; in spite of those who held the
theory that popes were subordinate to councilsand
they were to be found in all nations and in every
university ; and in spite of the ill-will of princes and
kings, especially those of France, who, the more they
wished to subordinate their Churches to the civil
power, the more they sought to strengthen the
former's independence of Rome.
Because hardly had the Papacy succeeded in
crowning the work of union begun at Constance
by showing Catholics the true centre of unity, when
it saw all Christendom menaced by the Muslim
invasion and spent itself in vain efforts to combine
divided Europe into one crusade, without succeeding
even in inducing the Italian states, which were those
especially threatened by the Turks, to forget their
Because these disputes of the Italians, and the
consequent danger to the papal state, contributed
to stamp the Papacy with a political 0 <ter
which became predominant at the end of the fifteenth
century, and in the reigns of Sixtus IV., Alexander VI.,
and Julius II., too often relegated purely religious
considerations to a second place.
Finally, because the Papacy itself, allured by the
charm of the Renaissance to the extent I have shown,
was not sufficiently aware of the danger, and, proud
to lead the march of the new civilisation, did not hear
soon enough the sound of the blows which were struck
at the traditional faith, and the murmur of troubled
The work of reform, nevertheless, had never been
quite forgotten. Various renewed attempts of reform
had been made, especially in Germany, by Cardinal
Nicholas of Cusa and Saint John Capistran in the
middle of the fifteenth century ; it was studied by
Pius II., Paul II., and even by Sixtus IV. It is true
that their reforms were partial and incomplete, for
the Papacy did not dare to attempt a general reform
for fear of encountering the opposition of too many
ecclesiastical dignitaries, and of all princes, who were
as little anxious to perform their share in the reforma
tion as they were quick to denounce the Church when
she failed to achieve it.
It was, alas, too late when, after the energetic
protestations of the ardent Dominican Girolamo
Savonarola, the work of reform was taken in hand
more thoroughly, and with a stronger determination
to carry it through, by the fifth Lateran Council in
the reigns of Julius II. and Leo X. In Germany
the revolutionary elements were already stirring : they
were prepared to burst upon the rest of Christendom,
fulfilling to the letter the prophetic threats which
the great Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini had launched at
Pope Eugenius I V. from the Council of Basle :
"The Bohemian heresy is extinct, but another,
much more dangerous, will arise. . . . Who does
not see that the danger of total subversion is evident ?
Woe to the clergy, wherever they may be found ! . . .
They are said to be incorrigible, and determined to
live in their shameful perversity, whatever the cost. . . .
The minds of men teem with what they prepare
against us, . . . they think that despoiling and killing
the priests will be a sacrifice acceptable to God. . . .
They ascribe both the shame and the fault to the
Roman court, because they see in her the cause of
all the abuses in Christendom. . . . The princes of
Germany will rise against us. ... I see the axe laid
to the root, the tree about to fall, and instead of
supporting it while it is still possible, we dash it to
the ground." 1
It was in Germany that the great religious crisis of
the sixteenth century actually burst. The state of
Italy and the psychology of Italians at the end of the
fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries
gave us the key to the Renaissance, and in like
manner the state of Germany and the psychology of
Germans at the end of the fifteenth century will
supply us with the key to the Reformation and the
Protestant heresies.2
1 Monumenta gener. concil. saeculi, xv. vol. ii. p. 97.
2 The books relating to the German Reformation would fill a
library in themselves. I shall indicate only a few here, referring
my readers for the bibliography to the work of M. Janssen, Geschichte
des deutschen Volkes sett dem Ausgang des Mittelalters. This
is the most complete work. A new edition, revised and consider
ably enlarged by Pastor, is in course of publication at Freiburg, by
Herder ; we will call it Janssen-Pastor. References in this book
are made to the English translation by A. M. Christie. London :
Kegan Paul. Besides this important work, we may mention :
"Amies deutschen hand! poor Germany!" cried
the Emperor Maximilian, after he had spent his
life in trying to give a little unity to Germany
and a little strength to the central power at that
serious time when the Empire, threatened on the
west by the French, was unceasingly menaced by
Turkish invasions on the east. Disorder and anarchy
continued in spite of all his efforts. The princes,
who were individually anxious to assert their inde
pendence of the Emperor, made light of the common
welfare. They were permeated and impressed with
the spirit and principles of Roman law: they trampled
upon the ancient German customs, opposed the state
Dllinger, Die Reformation ihre innere Entwickelung, etc. Ratisbon,
1846. Among Protestant histories we may cite Menzel, Neuere
Geschichte der Deutschen seit der Reformation, 2nd ed., 1854-55; and
L. Ranke, Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation, 4th ed.,
1867-68 ; and in French, Merle d'Aubigne, Histoire de la Reforma
tion du XVI' siede, temps de Ltdher, new edition, Paris, 1860-62,
without critical value.
Lives of Luther : Melanchthon, Historia de vita et actis Lutheri.
Wittenberg, 1546.
Cochlceurs (Dobereck), Commentaria de actis et scriptis Lutheri.
Mainz, 1549.
Among the modern biographies :
Jrgens, Luthers Leben (up to the dispute about indulgences).
Leipzig, 1 846-47 (Protestant).
Koestlin, Luther, sein Leben und seine Schriften. Elberfeld, 2nd ed.,
1883. (A complete biography of a scientific character.)
Evers, Martin Luther, Leben und Charakterbild, etc. Mentz,
1883-92 (Catholic).
Kolde, Luther, eine Biographie, 1 884-89 (a very elaborate work ;
Denifle, Luther und Lutherthum. Mentz, 1904 (Catholic).
In French : Audin (Catholic), Fie de Luther. Paris, 1839. (This
work has had a great reputation and is still read with interest, but
it has been improved upon in every way, and is no longer authori
Kuhn (Protestant pastor), Luther, sa vie et son ceuvre. Paris:
assemblies with the object of suppressing them, in
creased the taxes, sought to add to their revenues in
every way, began to covet the property of the Church,
violated ecclesiastical dignitaries, and entered into
mutual alliances to oppress the weak.
The lower nobility, consisting of the knighthood,
was the army of the revolution. They were the im
mediate vassals of the Emperor, but actually recognised
no authority. Always helmeted and armed, they
were constantly at strife with the peasantry and
towns, and with the lay and ecclesiastical princes.
There have not been wanting litterateurs and even
historians to describe them as the defenders of ancient
Fischbacher, 1 883. (Written with emotion and heat, but without
critical value.)
Works of Luther :
Ed. Walch, 24 vols., Halle, 1740-1750. Ed. Plochmann and
Irmischer, 67 vols, of German works, 28 vols, of Latin works,
Erlangen, 1826-1879- Only the last volumes of the Latin, and
the 2nd edition of the German works (22 volumes in all) answer
the requirements of modern criticism.
A critical edition, with which, however, Fr. Denifle finds serious
fault, was undertaken on the occasion of the fourth centenary of
Luther's birth and confided to Knaake, D. Martin Luthers Werke,
Kritische Gesammt-Ausgabe. Weimar, 1883 et seq.
The letters and consultations were collected by de Wette (German),
5 vols., Berlin, 1825-1828, and Seidmann, 1 vol., 1856.
Burckhardt, M. Luther; Brieftvcchsel, mit vielen unbekannten
Briefen. Leipzig, 1866. The Tischreden (table-talks) were first
published in two different editions, published in 1844 and 1848,
by Forstemann and Bindseil, 4 vols., and in Latin by Bindseil,
3 vols., 1863.
Kolde, Analecta Lulherana, Briefe und Aktenstiicke Zur Gesch.
Luthers. Gotha, 1883.
A short resume" of the German works, especially those of Janssen,
was made with care and precision (save for the bibliography) by
M. Laffay, in three pamphlets of the Science et Religion series
published by Blond: I. L'Allemagne au temps de la Riforme ; II.
Luther; III. La conquete luthirienne. *
German liberty, as the redressers of wrongs and pro
tectors of the oppressed : in reality it was the weak
who were these victims. They pillaged the peasants,
they burnt the villages, and they robbed the merchants.
The two most perfect and popular types of these
brigand-knights were Franz von Sickingen and Goetz
von Berlichingen ; J the latter compared himself and
his followers to a band of wolves : " As we were
starting on our journey, five wolves threw themselves
on a flock of sheep. I took pleasure in watching
them and wished good luck to them as to ourselves :
I said to them ' Good luck, comrades, good luck to
all,' and I regarded it as a good sign that we went
thus to the attack at the same time as they ! " The
towns, so essential to the prosperity and power of
Germany in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
were also absolutely selfish in their politics : they
were often in opposition to the Emperor, and at
strife with the princes and knights: they were the
victims of interior disputes, and threatened by a
growing faction of agitators irritated by the inflam
matory appeals of orators and preachers with social
tendencies, such as Geyler of Kaisersberg " who in
vited the poor to hunt like wolves the monopolists
who sucked the blood of the people."2
The incipient social revolution was not confined to
the towns. The dispositions of the peasantry were the
greatest danger of Germany. They had their rights,
and these rights were continually violated : lords and
knights were joined against them : they had goods,
1 Ullman, Frans von Sickingen, Leipzig, 1872, and Wegele, Goetz
von Berlichingen in the Zcitschrifl fur deutsche Kunstgeschichte of
Muller, 3rd year, 125-166. Hanover, 1874.
2 Dacheux, Un riformateur catholique a la Jin du XV* siecle. Paris
and Strasburg, 1876.
but their goods were constantly subject to pillage.
Moreover, they knew now that they had power, for
their princes used to sell them to the sovereigns of
Europe : they were the famous lansquenets (landsknechte)
who had so many victories to their credit.
Why not make use of their arms in their own
defence ?
They began to form leagues : in twenty-five years
they had already risen four or five times to chastise
the nobles in one place or another ; and the spirit of
equality and socialism always inspired their demands.
This was the prelude to that terrible peasants' war
which was soon to steep the west of Germany in
It is easy to understand why the Emperor Maxi
milian said : " Poor Germany ! " and why the Elector
of Mainz said to the young Charles who had just
succeeded Maximilian : " We foresee so great a con
flagration of the whole of Germany that we do not
think the like will have been heard of in the past :
tale universes Germanics incendium perspicimus, quale
nullis ante temporibus auditum arbitramur." 2
It is obvious that the revolution was imminent, but,
it will be asked, why did it assume a religious character?
and why was it manifested in the separation of Germany
from Rome ? Why was it not purely political and
social, like other revolutions ? But first, is it quite
certain that there have been any political and social
revolutions in Christendom in which the religious
question was not involved ? I will not pursue this
question, for its discussion might lead us too far from
the point. This particular revolution was of a re
1 See Janssen, vol. iv. bk. vii. Social Revolution. English trans.
2 Letter of 8th February 1520. Lanz, Corresponded der Kaisers
Carl V., vol. I. p. 57.
ligious character because it was set in motion by a
monk and a religious reformer ; and the reason of this
was that this monk found a certain reponsive element
in the minds of his German contemporaries.
We can decern the traces of a triple movement
religious, intellectual, and national in German
society of the first years of the sixteenth century.
The religious movement involved those monks and
priests who were hostile to the pontifical and episcopal
power, the theological successors of the mystics of the
fourteenth ceutury.the hidden sectaries of John Huss,
who were secretly perpetuated in a large part of
Germany, and also all those who were scandalised
by the undoubted disorders of many of the clergy,
and hoped no longer for salvation through the Church
herself, but were prepared to : " Do without her, or
reform her by force 1 " l Now these latter were pre
disposed to accept teachings such as those of Luther ;
the best of them were keenly aware of the sin that
reigned in the world, they had a great desire to be
justified and sanctified, and the means supplied by the
Church seemed inadequate to them : they wanted
justification straight from Christ Himself, and they
sought teaching from Holy Scripture alone. In a
word, they went to God without the Church's help.
These were already the tendencies of preachers and
theologians such as Geyler of Kaisersberg, Johann
von Wesel, Johann von Goch, Nicolas Russ, and
also of Luther.
The intellectual movement was that of humanism
which I have, I think, sufficiently describedwith its
1 Upon this question of the state of the German clergy Janssen-
Pastor may be consulted, History of the German People, vol. i.
English trans. It is well recapitulated by Laffay, L'Allemagne au
temps de la Rtforme, in the collection Science et Religion.
tendencies at first Christian, then rationalist, be
coming more and more hostile to scholasticism and
the traditional teaching of the Church. After the
Reuchlin controversy, the movement culminated in the
division of thinking Germany into two hostile camps.
Finally, the national movement fed on the hatred
of the Germans for Rome the origin of which is lost
in that ancient, drawn-out war between the priest
hood and the empire. It is true that the Pope and
Emperor were reconciled since the concordat of 1448,
but the princes added hatred of their Pope to the
hatred of the Emperor : the knights, especially Ulrich
von Hutten, proclaimed themselves champions of
German national unity. Ulrich of Hutten con
stituted himself mouthpiece of the German rancour
against Rome: in 1514 he addressed a poem to
Albert of Mainz in which he celebrates all the
ancient glories of Germany, and, not content with
protesting against the financial exactions of the Papal
court, he accuses Rome and the Papacy of having
hindered the national development of his country.
In 1519, he shut himself up in his castle of Seckelberg,
where he had a printing-house, and published
pamphlet after pamphlet. He attacked the Latin
spirit in the name of the German spirit : he looks
upon the Roman pontiff as the enemy of the father
land, and gives voice to this savage cry : " The Pope
is a brigand, and the brigand's army is called the

Martin Luther was to combine in himself all these
elements: they were to be embodied in, and to
take their life's breath from, him.
1 Boecking, Vlrki Utteni opera. Leipzig, 1859-1862. Cf. Janssen,
vol. iv. pp. 274, 276. English, trans.
Luther did not have to create anything : all the
materials for the Reformation were at his hand. In
theology, the Augustinian monks gave him the
principles of a theory of grace which he was to
stretch to their furthest limits ; and in the matter of
ecclesiastical descipline he had the Hussite organisa
tion for a model. The princes moved by ambition
and avarice, the knights, and the revolutionaries of
town and country formed an army quite ready to
engage in warfare, and he had not even to organise
its staff of officers. John Huss had been the leader
of the religious movement ; Erasmus and the poets of
Erfurt, of the intellectual, and Ulrich von Hutten, of
the national : Luther was the embodiment of all
Doubtless, you have heard, and will hear again
from those who are satisfied with a superficial system
of apologetics, that Luther was proud and sensual,
and that if the Reformation succeeded, it was be
cause it slackened the bridle that had hitherto
checked the proud and sensual passions of mankind.
It is true that Luther was proud and sensual, but
that was his weakness, not his strength. Nor was
the unbridling of passions the principal cause of the
popularity and success of German Protestantism ;
though it sometimes helped them. To the honour of
our poor humanity there is no instance of the triumph
of a cause made up only of bad and impure elements.
The strength of Luther and the Lutheran move
ment was due to the satisfaction they offered to
contemporary tendencies. Luther was the living
personification of the latter.
Even the power of his mind does not explain his
immense influence : it was due to power of soul.
Luther was a soul ; a soul living, original, and in
dividual, but also profoundly German. " I was born
for my fellow Germans," said he, " and I wish to serve
In the genius of the Germans there is a strange
blending of gross coarseness and mystical sentiment,
of violent desires and tender and intimate religion.
Luther was subject to this combination in an unusual
The tone of his polemics is frightfully coarse. In
the treatise on the Abuse of the Mass, in which he
stigmatised the sacrifice as idolatry, we read :
" Whence come ye then, ye priests of idols ? Are
ye not thieves and plunderers and blasphemers of the
Church, who scandalously abuse for your own glory,
pride, greed, and malice the holy name of ' priest,'
which is the common possession of all Christians, but
which you have taken by force as your private
property? You are not priests, but intolerable
burdens on the earth. Have you any conception
what punishment you hypocrites and robbers have
deserved ? " . . . " It is far better to be a hangman
or a murderer than a priest or a monk." ..." The
Pope, the Devil's Nag, has made the whole priesthood
into the dregs of all that is most execrable ; the con
secration now stamps the priests with the 'mark of
the Beast ' of the Apocalypse." *
He casts insult equally upon the universities,
which he calls "temples of Moloch and caves of
evil-doers." He characterises the Louvain theo
logians as " boorish asses, cursed sows, wretched
swindlers, bellies of blasphemies, dry-blooded incendi
1 Dr Denifle insists on the ribald coarseness of Luther : Lathers
zotenhqfle Sprache und scheussliche zotenhajle Wilder und Verse, pp.
2 See English translation of Janssen, vol. iii. pp. 232, 233.
aries, fratricides, coarse swine, dainty pigs, heretics and
idolaters, conceited strutters, damned pagans, stagnant
pools, accursed broth of hell," etc. The Faculty of
Theology in Paris is " the damned synagogue of the
Devil." . . . It is " consumed from the top of its head
to the souls of its feet with white leprosy. It is the
most abominable intellectual street-walker that has
ever appeared under the sun," etc.1
This scurrility pleased the people ; yet these same
people were moved to tenderness when they were told
what the Doctor Martin Luther did one day when he
found a bunch of violets hidden under the snow on
his window-ledge ; how he had taken the poor flowers
to warm them with his breath and melt the hoar
frost that covered them ; what sweet and simple
pleasure he had taken in performing this work of
resuscitation ; and also how he had been grieved on
finding that, in spite of his care, one little violet,
frozen to the sap, was unable to warm and thrive
under his friendly breath.
And the same people saw themselves once more in
those confessions in which Luther owns his interior
struggles, like those of other men, and the means by
which he sought escape from them, sometimes,
copious libations and tremendous jests ; and side by
side with this, he makes use of the most touching,
the most emotional, even the most tragic terms to
depict the anguish of his soul : "To my false con
fidence in my own justification was added continual
doubt, despair, terror, hatred, and blasphemy. . . .
My soul was crushed with sorrow ; I was plunged
into ceaseless agony, and all the consolations I wished
to draw from my personal justification and works
1 Janssen, note 2, vol. ii. p. 204, French translation, and Hoener,
Papst Adrian VI. pp. 41, 301, 367. Vienna, 1880.
were powerless to console me." * Thousands of men,
in reading this, might imagine it to be their own
And when Luther speaks of the love of God,
relating the happiness of the soul which is united
with Christ by the ring of faith, as a wife is joined to
her husband, are not his pages imbued with the
depth of tone and the penetrating charm of the
tenderest of German mystics ? 2 This consciousness
of the fall of man, of his need of santification, this
conviction that salvation comes, not from works, but
only from faith in Christ ; this appeal to the interior
spirit and to the sole testimony of conscience ; are
not these ideas in some sort strangely powerful and
alluring, especially to men whom serious grievances
against the clergy and a multitude of national pre
judices tended to estrange from the Roman Church :
grievances and prejudices which Luther played upon
in his appeals to the nobility and people of Germany ?
Los von Rom !
Lutherwas indeed kerndeutsch, thoroughly German,
as Evers says. He combined in himself the aspira
tions of many of his fellow citizens ; and it was the
combination of these aspirations which was designated,
at the beginning of the great crisis of the sixteenth
century, under the name of Lutheranism. In this
lay the secret both of his strength, and of the early
triumphs of the Protestant Reformation.
I say the early triumphs, for, as everyone knows,
all those causes which were at first confounded with
those of the religious reformation were soon to be
defeated. First came the overthrow of the knights,
1 Quoted by Jurgens, Luthers leben, vol. i. p. 577.
2 Of the liberty of a Christian, Scemmthiche Werke, vol. iv.
pp. 173-199.
and the end of the revolutionary knighthood ; then
that of the peasants, who were drowned in blood with
the approval of Luther himself; then the rout of
humanism, after the quarrel between Erasmus and
Luther, the decay of the universities, and the ruin of
the schools ; and finally, the lamentable miscarriage
of the national movement, the internal division and
the weakness of Germany when confronted by the
house of Austria, then by Sweden and France, the
incessant appeal for foreign aid ; and all this for two
centuries. Heresy alone remained : why was this
the case ? It was owing to the help of the princes,
who became all-powerful after the overthrow of the
revolutionary elements and the seizure of the
Church's property; of princes who were lords of
their subjects' consciences as well as of their bodies :
in virtue of the oft proclaimed principle : cujus regio,
hujus religio : who owns the country, owns the
religion ; of princes who were therefore anxious to
maintain, even by force, a state of things so advan
tageous to their cupidity and the preservation of their
autocracy. Another reason for the persistence of
heresy was that it copied Rome, against which it had
rebelled. It established churches with a sovereign
authority by imposing formula of faith and by trans
mitting to children, through education and instruction,
doctrines which were ready-made and externally
authoritative, like those of the Catholic Church.
Does it really seem worth while to have rebelled
against her, and to have caused such a sad division in
the Christian world ?
We must now make a study of the other European
nations which passed over to Protestantism, as we
have done in the case of Germany. I shall show you,
wherever it triumphed, the political and social causes
which made a complete change in the state possible,
and the traces of the triple movementreligious,
intellectual, and nationalwhich gave this change
the character of a religious revolution and a separa
tion from Rome. Moreover, I shall show you that
nowherenot in England, or in the Scandinavian
States, or in Switzerlandwere these political, social,
religious, intellectual, and national causes sufficient to
justify, or even to explain, the separation from the
Catholic Church ; that nowhere did they give a char
acter of spontaneity to the Protestant Reformation ;
and that in no instance do they supply the reason of
its final victory. Protestantism, that so-called pro- \
test of conscience against the tyranny of the Roman
Church, must at last acknowledge that every one of
its victories was due to the civil power, which had
something to gain by its success, and did not scruple
to protect it either by stratagem or force.
In England,1 as in the whole of Europe, the de
velopment of the national sentiment and of the royal
power, the captivity of Babylon and the great schism,
gave rise to a movement of opposition to the Papacy
as early as the fourteenth century ; to aspirations
towards mysticism, and finally to a tentative heresy
1 Consult upon the English Reformation, among Catholic writers :
Lingard, History of England. Du Boys, Catherine d'Aragon et les
origines du schisme anglican, Paris, 1880. Gasquet, Henry VIII.
and the English Monasteries. Among Anglican writers : R. W.
Dixon, History of the Church of England from the abolition of the
Roman jurisdiction. London, 1884-91 ; and Gilbert W. Child,
Church and State under the Tudors. London, 1 890. Leslie Stephens,
Dictionary of National Biography, containing noteworthy articles
upon all the persons concerned in the Reformation. Green,
History of the English People, is interesting, but has a strong bias
towards Protestantism.
that of Wycliff. In England, as in Germany, grave
social and political disturbances marked the course of
the fifteenth century. The consequences of the black
death, which made such terrible havoc in Great
Britain, were felt for more than a century, affecting
the conditions of labour, the relations of the classes,
and even disturbing the good organisation of the
clergy. The Hundred Years' War, and especially
the Wars of the Roses, in addition to exposing the
poor people to all sorts of evils, destroyed the old
aristocracy and enabled the Tudors, victorious after
so much civil warfare, to establish absolute power.
The Church fell into the hands of the King, and
suffered also from the general disorder consequent
upon war and public calamity : it is certainly true
that she needed reform. As we have seen, the
humanists demanded it in England as they did in
Germany, but, far from desiring a separation from
Rome, the English Church and people of the sixteenth
century seemed to have forgotten many of their
ancient grievances against the Papacy. In 1520 there
was absolutely nothing to show that England would
separate herself from Catholic unity. It is impos
sible to repeat too often that the caprice of a sensual
and headstrong tyrant was not only the occasion, but
the actual cause of that deplorable secession. And
who is ignorant of the truly draconian laws, the
armed repression, and the atrocious tortures by
means of which Henry VIII. forced schism upon an
unwilling Church and people V Is it necessary to re
mind you that in the reign of his successor Edward VI.
1 Green says that " the ten years of Thomas Cromwell's ministry
(under Henry VIII.) can be compared only to the dictatorship of
Robespierre : it was the English terror."History of the English
the government went from schism to heresy, and did
not hesitate to engage German troops against those
who took up arms rather than abandon their faith ?
Finally, does not the name of Elizabeth recall one of ,
the most horrible religious tyrannies that the world
has known, under which the mere hearing, as well as I
the celebration, of three Masses was enough to con
demn a man to death ? This is how Protestantism,
that protest of conscience, was planted in England.
Is not the Protestant historian Schoell compelled
to write that in Sweden 1 " the Reformation was the
result of politics, that it was sought and introduced
against the will of a large portion of the nation by
a monarch who looked upon it as a means of con
solidating his power, and had to struggle during the
whole of his reign against his subjects' repugnance to
renounce the faith of their fathers " ? What is truer
than this? In Sweden no one, or hardly anyone,
demanded a religious reformation, and no one thought
of seceding from Rome. Vasa was proclaimed king ;
he did not know how to discharge the debts be
queathed to him by the civil and foreign wars ; the
country people who had supported him would not hear
of taxes, and the nobles, who constituted the armed
1 There are few English and French works upon the history of
the Scandinavian States. Consult GefFroy, Hisloire des Etats scandinaves,
in Hachette's collection of manuals of universal history.
Allen's Hisloire du Danemark. French translation by Beauvois.
L'Histoire de Snide, by Geijer, translated into French by Lunblad.
Paris, 1839- Consult Allen upon the origin and beginning of the
Protestant Reformation in the three kingdoms : History of the three
northern kingdoms under John, Christian II., Frederick I., and Gustavus
Wasa. Copenhagen, 1865-1872 (in Danish). Kamp, History of the
Catholic Church in Denmark (in Danish, translated into German).
1863. G. Weydling, History of Sweden at the time of the Reformation
(in German). Gotha, 1882. M. Haumant's chapter in the Hisloire
generate de Lavisse et Rambaud, vol. iv., may be read with profit.
power, demanded payment. The goods of the clergy
were at hand ; certain prelates were opposed to
Gustavus Vasathey knew that he was a Lutheran ;
his dependence upon the three apostatesLawrence
Anderson and Olatis and Lawrence Petriwas well
known. The king stirred up public opinion against
the clergy, their political attitude, and their riches.
In 1524 he delivered over to torture Canut, the aged
Archbishop of Upsala, and Sunnanwaeder, Bishop of
Westerns, pretending that they were concerned in a
plot. Certain towns joined the movement, but the
rural districts resisted energetically. Gustavus de
ceived them and provoked them against the clergy.
" Certain monks and clerics," he wrote in his letter
to the inhabitants of Helsingland in 1526, "have
accused us of evil intentions because we do not allow
them to act against the precepts of religion. . . .
They refuse to administer the sacraments to their
debtors instead of acting in accordance with the law
on this matter ; if a poor man catches a bird or goes
fishing on Sunday the Church condemns him to pay
a fine to the bishop or parish priest pretending that
he has profaned the Sabbath. The clergy are in
possession of much property which belongs to the
Crown, and they arrogate to themselves the office of
the king in the matter of fines."
At the great diet of Westeraes, in 1527, Gustavus
wished to strike a decisive blow. Lawrence Anderson,
his chancellor, who had been a student at Wittenberg,
made a long speech to the diet, describing the distress
of the treasury, the immense riches of the Church,
and the ill-will of the clergy in the matter of helping
the king ; he said that resistance on the part of the
clergy must be ignored, that abuses of which the
whole world was tired must be reformed, and finally
that the king must be allowed to make use of that
mass of unproductive wealth.
They were so far from being tired of the alleged
abuses that the dean of the Senate replied that, " if
there are any, they can be corrected without affecting
the Church, her constitution, or her rites, and that
duty to the king should not make them forget duty
to the pope." These words expressed the almost
unanimous opinion of the assembly.
Gustavus enacted the farce of abdication, left the
state without government, treated with the nobles,
promising them a share of the plunder, and then
resumed the crown. He was authorised to possess
himself of the Church's property : he completed the
measure by issuing edicts which reserved to himself
the nomination to ecclesiastical offices, subjected the
clergy to civil tribunals, commanded the reading of
the Gospel in the schools, and established freedom of
In the midst of the plunder of her property, the
new organisation of the Church went almost unnoticed.
Moreover, Gustavus proceeded very prudently in
order that his subjects might pass unsuspectingly
from the one religion to the other. And he suc
ceeded : at the end of the century the substitution
was achieved.
A similar stratagem, or if you will, betrayal, was
employed in Denmark. Christian II., from the
beginning of Lutheran preaching, sought to make
use of the new doctrines to establish an absolute
monarchy. In 1520, despite the protests of the
clergy and people, he handed over the Church of
Copenhagen to a disciple of Luther, and condemned
the Archbishop of Lund to death. He was expelled
by his subjects. His fortunate rival, Frederick I, of
Holstein, swore to maintain Catholicism, but he did
not hesitate to break his oath. In the years 1526
and 1527, he extorted from the diet of Odensee those
measures which prepared the way for the triumph of
Lutheranism : thenceforth the bishops would not seek
their confirmation from Rome, but from Lund ; the
payments that had been made to the Pope would go
to the king. Many monasteries were confiscated, and
the celebration of worship in the Danish tongue was
soon introduced. The death of Frederick was followed
by a terrible civil war; the bishops were forced to
acknowledge his son Christian III., who acted in
concert with the lay aristocracy and a section of the
commonalty. It was decided to exclude the bishops
from the diet and to confiscate their goods : they were
all sent to prison until they should agree to sign a
resignation of their office together with an under
taking that they would make no protest against the
action of the next diet : one of them died a martyr in
his cell. This diet, which was composed almost
entirely of nobles, ratified the religious revolution :
the king in return conceded to them his rights over
the peasants, and serfdom was definitely established,
and to this reward he added a considerable quantity
of ecclesiastical property. Shortly afterwards the
bishops were replaced by superintendents. The
Catholics resisted for ten years. In 1546, the diet
of Copenhagen abolished all the rights of the ancient
Church, punished those who remained faithful by
subjecting them to legal disabilities, and pronounced
sentence of death against the priests and whomsoever
should give them shelter.
Unfortunate Iceland rose in rebellion against the
new doctrine which was being forced upon them :
one of her two bishops was beheaded, and the
wretched inhabitants realised that they would have
to yield.
Let us pass from aristocratic monarchies to the
little republic of Switzerland.1 A similar spectacle
awaits us. There again we see the religious reformers
turning revolutionary passions and social or national
aspirations to account, and, once they are possessed
of power, forcing their doctrines upon the people. Is
not this especially true of Zwingli and of the Council
of Zurich ? As soon as the radical and almost social
istic party acquired the majority in the Council,
Zwingli demanded the help of the temporal power
" in defence of the divine word " ; and in 1525 the
State Church established itself, proclaimed that only
the doctrines of Zwingli were orthodox, proscribed
Catholic worship, and demolished tabernacles and
altars in the churches ; it follows as a matter of
course that the property of the churches and convents
was confiscated.
The procedure of Berne was similar. Would
Geneva itself have become Protestant without the
intervention of the former ? Zurich and Berne soon
took up arms in order to force the new religion upon
the whole of Switzerland. They tried to starve those
who remained faithful. "Did not the Lord say,"
wrote Zwingli : " Destroy the evil one that is in your
midst ? " Fortunately the victory of Cappel saved the
cantons which remained Catholic.
I stop here ; though it would be easy to multiply
instances, which would bring many reflections in their
1 De Haller, Histoire de la Revolution religieuse on de la Riforme
protestante dans la Suisse occidentale. Paris, 1 837 ; (Euvres de Zwingli,
published by Schuler and Schultes, 10 vols. ; MoenUcoper, Zwingle,
2 vols., 1 867-69 ; Strickler, Aktensammlung zur schtveizer Reformation
geschichte, 3 vols., 1878-84; Stcehlin, Ulrich Zwingli, 1897.
train. The following conclusion is sufficient for the
present:that it is only too easy for a government
which is strong and knows how to take advantage of
certain passions, to lead a people, even a great people,
against their will, in the matter of religion at least, if
the people do not energetically resist their govern
ment. Unlike England and other countries, six
teenth-century France energetically wished to remain
Catholic : we shall see how and why. And she did
remain Catholic, even when the lawful heir to the
throne was a Protestant and a soldierin short, a
Henry IV. And to-day, in the presence of rulers
who are not Henrys, may she still show the same
unconquerable will to remain constant in her faith,
and the same energy in defending it against all its
enemies !
How and why France remained Catholic in the
sixteenth century1
Christian unity was broken towards the middle of
the sixteenth century ; the Protestants threatened
the Catholic Church on all sides. Forced to take the
defensive, betrayed by the majority of governments,
Rome had had good cause to despair of the future
but for the promises of Christ. Eastern Europe had
long been separated from her in spite of half-hearted
reconciliations ; Northern Europe had just declared
1 The history of the Protestant Reformation in France is related
in all general histories of France and of the Church ; but there
exists at present no particular history, complete and in accordance
with modern science, compiled by a Catholic. The first volume of
M. Imbart de la Tour, entitled Les Origines de la RAforme (published
by Hachette), gives rise to the hope that he will supply this want.
Refer for the extensive bibliography of this subject to the Histoire
de France, published by Hachette, under the direction of M. Lavisse,
vols. v. and vi. As a general study of this period, the following
are to be recommended :de Meaux, Les luttes Religieuses en France
au XVI' steele. Paris, 1 879- Henri de l'Epinois, La ligne et les papes.
Paris, 1886. Theodore de Beze, L'Histoire ecclesiastique des eglises
riformies au royaume de France, new edition by Baum and Cunitz,
Paris, 1887, remains from the Protestant point of view a general
work as important as it is interesting. A large number of local
studies has been published, especially in the Bulletin de la Socteti
d'histoire du protestantisme Jrangais, which has appeared since
1852. Among monographs of this class compiled by Catholics, the
study of M. Bernard de Lacombe upon Orleans aux temps des
guerres de religion, Paris, 1903, should be mentioned. It is by
means of these monographs that a true history of the Reformation
in France may be constructed.
war ; even Spain and Italy were uncertain ; humanly
speaking, the destinies of the Church depended upon
the attitude of France. Had that great and noble
kingdom placed its intellectual genius, its political
power, and its military forces at the disposal of the
Reformation, it had undoubtedly been the end of
Catholicism in Europe.1 In the times of the last
Valois, as in those of the founder of the Frankish
monarchy, France was to be the lists in which error
and orthodoxy would rush into final and decisive
battle : under Henry IV., as under Clovis, truth was
triumphant, and France was once more the instrument
employed by God to preserve its threatened empire.
Protestantism was not destroyed, but its progress
was stayed for ever.
Why and how was Catholicism the victor, and
Protestantism the vanquished, in this religious duel ?
Why and by what means did France remain Catholic
when so many other nations, which were put to the
same test, abandoned their traditional faith to follow
the teachings of an innovatorof Luther, Zwingli, or
Calvin ? This is a difficult question to which the
only possible reply is a statement of fact resting on
the evidence of contemporary documents: France
remained Catholic because such was her will. The
maintenance of the true religion was in her case the
work and the triumph of the national will. Whereas
the masses of the people everywhere else in Europe
let themselves be conquered, and, through indifference,
stratagem, or force, accepted the Reformation from
1 The Archbishop of Lyons, in a letter dated March 1571, which
is quoted by l'Epinois, La Ligue et les Papes, p. 472, foresees this
possible result : " We cannot lay down our arms in order to treat
with heresy without bringing about the complete ruin of religion
in France. All Christendom, especially Italy and the Holy See,
would soon be lost."
the rapacious and brutal hands of their rulers, the
mass of the French people allowed themselves to be
neither seduced nor coerced. They defended their
faith against all its enemies by every means in their
power, and even imposed it upon their king ; this is
one of the most glorious pages in a history that is
full of generous traits. It is a fine thing to protest
against the horrors of religious wars, but it is finer,
and not so easy, to endure them for the sake of what
we believe to be the truth.1
France remained Catholic because she wished it,
but why did she wish it ? This problem is still more
complex, because it can only be solved by the almost
unattainable understanding of the very soul of the
nation at a given period of moral and religious
development. For to say, as is often done, that
France wished to remain Catholic because she knew
that her history was, from the first, intimately con
nected with that of the Church, is to enunciate a
truth which is undoubtedly incontestable, but is
common to all the nations of Europe before the six
teenth century : Is there one of them that did not
live by the life of the Catholic Church ? Was it,
then, simply because the motives which seemed to
other nations or their rulers strong enough to deter
mine them to break with their mistress and mother,
did not exist in the case of France, or did not possess
the same power? We must examine this in some
1 It is said in certain quarters that France did not become
Protestant because the king did not wish it ; in reality, it was the
people who did not wish it ; witness their attitude towards the
Protestants at first ; moreover, the existence of the League is a
sufficient proof of my assertion.
In Germany, where it was born, Protestantism
seemed to us to be the result of a triple current
religious, intellectual, and nationalflowing into an
original and powerful national genius, by which it
was borne forward with remarkable energy ; a current
that was afterwards intercepted, directed, and dammed
by selfish and ambitious politics.
Now, may not these three currents be recognised
in French society of the sixteenth century ? As in
Germany, a religious reformation was demanded, and
with good reason. In every epoch in France, the
satirists found their subject in the debauchery, avarice,
and pride of too large a number of clerics and monks
who were unworthy of their holy vocations ; for a
long time they were content to laugh and mock, but
the evil was aggravated by reason of a general relaxa
tion of discipline,1 as was publicly admitted by the
highest representatives of the Church ; it was not
reformed ; although sceptics and libertines still
mocked, the noblest souls mourned and wept : they
dreamt of an ideal which was purer in proportion as
the reality became more repelling, and lulled them
selves with the vain hope of I know not what return
to the primitive Church of Christ. The mass of the
people grumbled and became excited ; the storm was
gathering. "Whom shall we accuse, my brother
bishops," cried the Cardinal de Lorraine in full
council at Trent, "whom shall we indict as the
authors of so great an evil ? We must not, we can
not, say and confess it without disgrace and shame to
ourselves, without repenting deeply our past life.
Through us, the storm and tempest are come, my
1 Many curious details of the state of the clergy may be found
in the Memoires de Claude Haton, publishedvery incompletely in
other respectsby Bourquelot in the Collection des documents inedits.
brethren, therefore let us cast ourselves into the sea.
Let judgment begin in the house of God, and let
those who bear the vessels of the Lord be purged
and reformed ! " *
In France, as in Germany, the tendencies of reform
were mingled with those of humanism : we established
this in our second lecture.
Finally, in France no less than in the countries of
the middle and north of Europe, ill-will towards
Rome seemed to be part of that national heritage
which every government was anxious to defend and
preserve. Undoubtedly France had time after time
served the cause of the supreme head of the Church,
but for more than two centuries, the imperial pre
tensions of her kings, the theories of the ancient
Roman law which were creeping into her legislation,
and even the development of the national sentiment,
had inspired her with feelings of distrust which were
always on the watch against every sovereignty of a
foreign appearance and of a superior nature. This
distrust became almost enmity after the political
ambitions of the popes in Italy ceased to be in
accord with our own. The great schism, with the
consequent withdrawals from obedience, the councils
of the fifteenth century and their anti-papal doctrines,
the tardiness of the popes to institute reform, and the
regrettable facility with which they tolerated the
kings' abuse of the concordat, blinded the eyes of
the people to the inalienable rights and even to the
religious majesty of the See of Rome. The ribald
and blasphemous witticisms of Rabelais amused a
1 Oration of the Cardinal de Lorraine to the second general
Council of Trent, 23rd November 1 562. This speech was delivered
in Latin. Cf. Bouille, Histoire des dues de Guise, vol. ii. p.
greater number of people than they scandalised.1
The Gallican Church itself seemed no less jealous for
its national freedom than the civil power. She sided
with the majority for Louis XII. against Julius II.,
and she did not cease to protest against the agree
ment which Francis I. concluded with Leo X. in
1516. In the most lofty moment of Catholic fervour,
at the height of the League, the assembly of the
clergy which met in 1586, dared to talk of suppressing
a papal bull because the intervention of the nuncio
violated the privileges of the Gallican Church : at the
famous States-General of 1588 the clergy reproached
the Third State with having accepted the publication
of the Council of Trent unconditionally, and the
legate Morosini had the bitter sorrow of hearing these
words which embody such grievous accusations against
him who sent him and against himself: "After heresy,
the greatest plague of this country has been the
Italian foreigner ; he has cruelly plundered, and still
so plunders, the whole of France ; he makes mock of
our ruin, and thrives by its means ; he has already
incurred the displeasure of part of the people, and he
will drive the rest to revolt ; if we do not soon expel
him, he will be expelled by popular fury and re
bellion."2 Even in 1593, at the States-General con
voked at Paris to elect a Catholic king, the clergy of
Auxerre demanded the abolition of the concordat to
gether with the restoration of elections and the decrease
of the taxes which were paid to the Roman court.3
1 In the fourth book of Pantagruel.
Letters of the nuncio to Sixtus V. of 3rd and 4th March 1586,
quoted by l'Epinois, p. 41, notes 1 and 2.
2 Morosini to the Pope, 23rd October, 1588 ; l'Epinois, p. 250.
3 Articles of remonstrance of the clergy of Auxerre, in the Re
ports of the States-General of 1 593, published by A. Bernard, in
the collection of Documents inidits, p. 785.
Moreover, it is impossible to deny that there were
in France certain elements which were favourable to
the establishment of the Reformation. The great
man capable of rendering them operative was not
wanting: this was Calvin. In fact, there were
Protestants in France very early in the history of
the Reformation.1 The first, who were the best,
became so almost unconsciously. They were incon
siderable people, clerks or artisans, ill grounded in
doctrine, whose religious sentiment was over-excited
by the spectacle of disorder in the established Church.
Without positively renouncing her, they sought to
reach God without having recourse to her ; they
imagined that if Holy Scripture were read and
pondered by all, it would give to all a clear under
standing of the divine word.
They adopted the dogma of justification by faith
alone, which Luther proclaimed with melancholy
enthusiasm, because they were obsessed by a sense of
the sin which reigned everywhere about them, and
often in their midst, because they were imbued with
the idea of a necessary expiation and purification,
and because they were disgusted with the spectacle
of the works of man. This formidable doctrine,
which, even when it is moderated, is a stumblingblock
to so many upright minds and hearts, had its
enthusiasts and fanatics ; I should say that it had its
martyrs, if we might depart from the teaching of
Saint Augustine, who says that the cause, and not
the suffering, makes the martyr : causa non poena
martyrem facit. They were persecuted without pity,
and, with invincible fortitude, they endured horrible
tortures similar to those the followers of the Crucified
1 Thanks to the preachers : there existed but few treatises and
they were not easily accessible to the lower classes.
suffered at the hands of expiring paganism : their
blood bore new children to the Reformation, and
confirmed in their errors those whom gentler dealings
would have brought back to the Church ; the stake
was the attraction that held or drew towards it the
loftiest souls and the most generous consciences.1
We condemn in the name of truth those who were
led by such motives to separate themselves wittingly
and irrevocably from the Catholic Church, but we
speak of them with respect, because human interest
had no part in determining their resolve ; and with
pity, because they have suffered.
We cannot say as much for the socially great who
constituted the second element of French Pro
testantism.2 These latter awaited the sad end of
Henry II.'s reign, of the feeble youth of Francis II.,
and the troubled minority of Charles IX. before they
abandoned the faith of their fathers.3 The religious
sentiment was almost entirely foreign to them : the
pastors, who led the masses, and knew how to raise
Puritan armies from among them at opportune
moments, had hardly any influence upon the nobles.
Their conduct was nearly always determined by
ambition, greed of independence, turbulence, the
warrior-passion, the infectious example of the German
lords, and often by mere vulgar cupidity : " No other
discourse was heard at table than about the reforming
of the Ecclesiastical Estate, especially the rich abbeys,
it behoves us to know ; stripping them of the great
goods which were the cause, whatever they said to
1 See, on this subject, a beautiful lesson of Fr. Perrand (now
Cardinal) published in the Revue des cours litUraires in 1870. Cf.
Bossuet, Histoire de France pour le Dauphin, reign of Henry II.
2 Forneron, Les dues de Guise, vol. i. p. 340.
3 About 1557, according to Theodore de Beze.
the contrary, of their bad life ; and establishing them
as manors of lands and tenements, which might be
bestowed upon an infinity of poor gentlemen."1
One of Henry IV.'s strongest supporters advised
him to have recourse to a similar expedient at the
end of the civil war rather than allow himself to be
converted : he assured him that by so rich a distribu
tion of usurped property he could extract from the
soil at least three armies of valiant soldiers.2 I do
not wish to speak of the high ecclesiastical dignitaries
bishops or abbotswho fell into apostasy : the most
shameful passionsthose of the senseswere the
most frequent cause of their deplorable perversion ;
but their number, thank God, was small.3
French Protestants, properly so called, for whatever
motive they cast in their lot with heresy, never attained
to more than a small minority of the nationnot
even at the time of their greatest development. The
French genius is not mystical as is that of the
Germans and Flemings. It needs concrete doctrines
which are distinctly defined, rational, and well con
sidered ; which are approved and promulgated by
authority. The idea of justification by faith alone
might well beguile a few lofty souls, but it seemed
revolting to the majority ; moreover, it was not
presented to France with that personal, passionate
note which it acquired in Germany by contact with
the inner suffering of Luther. In Calvin's narrow
and strict brain it had assumed the rigid and logical
1 Pontus Payen, quoted by Lothrop Motley, Foundation of the
Republic of the United Provinces, vol. ii. p. 131.
s Le Vicomte de Gourdon ; it is true that the source is rather
3 Among the bishops, Spifame, of Nevers ; Montluc, of Valence ;
Odet, of Chatillon, Toulouse, and Beauvais ; and Carraccioli, of
Troyes, fell into heresy.
form of a philosophical system : when it is considered
together with his doctrine of predestination, it seems
to be the very negation of human freedom and divine
goodness.1 Nothing could be more repugnant to the
good sense of the French or to their highly developed
sense of the responsibility of man and of the merciful
justice of the Almighty. Now the dogma of justifi
cation by faith alone is the very foundation and
essence of Protestantism : to reject it is to reject
The logical issue of humanism was not the Lutheran
or Calvinistic doctrines, but rather rationalismab
solute, in the case of proud minds which were in
toxicated with their own powers ; in other cases,
reconcilable with moderate religious beliefs such as
the dogmas of the Catholic Church. In Germany
the headstrong genius of Luther had seized upon and
carried off everything; it took humanism years to
escape it and to resume its natural tendencies
together with its own separate existence. The
genius of Calvin was not like this impetuous flood :
it did not win over those who, in the name of the
progress of human intellect and of free inquiry, rose
up against a transient form of philosophical and
theological teaching.2 Scholasticism, the Sorbonne,
and the University lost their intellectual ascendency,
and humanism, satisfied and reconciled with the
Church, gave birth to that literary and philosophical
work of the seventeenth century, which was, as I
have said already, a harmonious synthesis of ancient
*I have set forth the doctrines of Calvin in an article in the
Dictionnaire de Tfieologie, compiled by M. Mangenot ; I mention it
for the sake of readers who wish for further particulars.
3 This was all the more so that Calvin was very hostile to free
inquiry, and to rationalism under all its aspects.
wisdom and Christian thought, and the legitimate
result of the intellectual Renaissance.
Although sixteenth-century France, in consequence
of ascertained historical circumstances, may not have
had as much dependence upon, and attachment to,
the Roman See as were desirable, yet she knew that
it was necessary to the Church. The legate Morosini
said at the States- General of 1588 : " The French may
deny the papal power verbally, but they do not deny
it in fact, for no nation asks more dispensations and
favours of the Sovereign Pontiff."1 The absence
of a central power and supreme authority at the
head of a society in which one really wishes to see
good order re-established and reign henceforth seems
an absurdity. Undoubtedly, it was pretended that
the prerogatives of the Crown and the Gallican
liberties were a necessary protection against encroach
ments which were considered dangerous, but those
prerogatives and liberties were also considered a
sufficient security. The concordat gave to mon
archical absolutism the scope it demanded. And
the bishops, thanks to their territorial wealth, to the
high rank they occupied in the state, and to the very
various offices with which they were entrusted, felt
that they were closely united to the life of the nation.
Even their ambition did not lead them into schism.
Moreover, although their conduct and zeal were
perhaps not always in accord with the sublimity of
their mission, yet their faith at least remained in
violate. They were troublesome children to the
Roman Church, but they meant to remain faithful
children. It is to the eternal honour of the French
Church that she never knew the shameful wholesale
desertions of the clergy of England. As for the im
1 Quoted by l'Epinois, La Ligne et les Papes, p. 252.
mense Catholic majority of the population, though
they might have prejudices against the court of
Rome, and justify them to some extent by the events
of the past hundred and fifty years, they were not
strongly anti-Roman. Without falling into certain
excesses found in Italy or Spain, they had, on the
whole, a similar conception of the exterior forms of
worship : they loved the Virgin and the Saints, those
easily accessible and gentle mediators between man
and God ; and one most important factor in the
situation was that there is no fundamental opposition
between the French and Latin spirits. Protes
tantism, on the contrary, although its origin was
partly French and it was not simply an importation,
had continuous relations with people of German race
and language, which caused it to acquire very early
in its history that exotic flavour of which it has never
been freed. France felt instinctively that it was the
great enemy of its national character.
Such were the reasons whichwith the special pro
tection of Providence, whose action, above all in a
case of this sort, must not be overlookeddetermined
sixteenth-century France to preserve the beliefs and
customs which had been the strength and honour
of the country for eleven hundred years. The ardent
desire of reform succeeded in investing them with a
semi-protestant manner of speech and action, but
they did not look upon reform as identical with
revolt. Many whom we consider the protectors and
patrons of dawning Protestantism never intended to
separate themselves from the Church, and died piously
in communion with her. When France had ascer
tained that true Protestantism meant religious revolu
tion and the complete breaking of tradition, she
recovered herself, collected her powers, and rose
almost in her entirety to safeguard her faith. What
brought her to this point? This is the second
question we have to consider.
At first sight it does not seem that Catholicism
would have much trouble in triumphing over its
adversaries ; at a time when religious questions were
usually settled by force, did it not have all the con
stitutional strength of the nation on its side : the
crown, the ecclesiastical and civil powers, and an
army commanded by skilful leaders ? Protestantism,
on the contrary, was in a minority which was but
small among a population, ten times more numerous,
which was soon animated by the most hostile senti
ments. In the midst of this Protestantism had to
rely on its own resources.
All this is true, but, precisely because the Catholics
formed the nation, their very mass condemned them
to protracted inaction in the face of their daring
enemies, and they could not avail themselves of the
organised legal powers of the government. Moreover,
all these powers failed them in the same hour.
The royal power was at once least worthy and
least capable of defending a noble cause at the very
moment when it was its duty to cope with heresy.
The continual vacillation of Francis I., and the
open protection he had long given, under the influ
ence of his sister Marguerite de Valois, to the
humanist reformers, were of considerable assistance
to the first steps of heresy. The policy of cruel and
prolonged repression which Henry II. adopted at the
instigation of his mistress, was no longer able to stay
its advance. Bossuet says in this connection : " When
men have begun to surrender themselves to the seduc
tion of novelty, they are rather stimulated than checked
by correction." Moreover, those of high social stand
ing escaped ; and if one of them happened to be sent
to the torture, his courage, which his eminence served
only to accentuate, furnished a most dangerous ex
ample. The immorality of those who went to extreme
measures such as execution and confiscation, and the
cupidity of those who profited by them, did not injure
the progress of the Reformation in England, in
Switzerland, or in Germany. In France they acted
to the detriment of Catholicism, by dishonouring its
defenders : order, truth, and right cannot employ with
impunity the weapons of revolt, error, and evil.1
After the death of Henry II. there was no longer
a royal policy : the sovereign's line of conduct was de
termined by changing parties, passions, and interests.
For long years a foreigner, who was depraved by
the study and assiduous practice of the system of
Machiavelli, governed the kingdom of France as if it
was an Italian principality. Intrigue was her most
honest method ; devoid of scruples, she tolerated, and
even instigated crime, if she could turn it to only
momentary advantage ; she looked upon the shame
ful immorality of the court, which she desired and
fostered, as the best means of ensuring her ascendency
over the most powerful lords. At Chenonceau in
1577 she caused them to be served at a great banquet
" by the most beautiful and honourable ladies of the
court, half nude and with their hair flowing loose." 2
Everyone knows to what end she trained her
scandalous troop of maids of honour : brought into
close contact with the unwholesome mirth and
barrack-room jesting of the young nobles ; purposely,
1 On this repression consult N. Weiss, La Chambre ardente.
Paris, 1889.
2 Mimoires of l'Estoile, vol. i. p. 86.
and sometimes forcibly corrupted, these unhappy
girls had soon lost all sense of modesty ; trained to
the most servile obedience, even by means of coarse
corporal punishment, which the queen bleed to ad
minister in person, they dropped and resumed their
affairs of gallantry at a word of command from her
whose slaves and political instruments they were, even
to the feigning of love and passion. It is impossible
to reconstruct this time, this court, and this woman.
Even her apologists confess that the highest idea of
Catherine de Medici was to preserve the power for
her children and to exercise it in their name ; she was
indifferent to all else. It is enough to say how she
considered the interests of religion : they were nothing
more than pieces in her game of combinations.1
Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes was right in saying
that the Huguenot leagues would neither have begun
nor continued without the assistance of the queen
and the court.2 In 1561, Catherine de Medici wrote
to the Duchess of Savoy " that she was resolved to
favour the Huguenots, from whom she hoped for her
salvation from the triumvirate." 3 On the occasion of
a monk preaching in her chapel she pretended to be
asleep, while Charles IV. played noisily with his dog.
Henri de Valois, her favourite son, burned his sister
Marguerite's book of flours and forced her to use the
prayer-books of the Protestants.4
1 Fomeron, Les dues de Guise, vol. ii. p. 35 et seq.
2 Memoires de Saulx-Tavannes, passim, from the year 1560. The
Petitot Collection, 1st series, vol. xxiv.
8 23rd August 1561 ; interview between Catherine de Medici and
Theodore de Beze, in the presence of the Cardinals de Lorraine and
de Bourbon. 31st December 156l ; demands of reform made to
Cardinal Ferrari, the papal legate. January 1562 ; edict of tolerance.
Cf. Forneron, Les dues de Guise, vol. i. p. 294.
* Memoires of Marguerite de Valois; Petitot, vol. i. p. 31.
All persons of intelligence, he told her, had given
up that bigotry ; and the queen, his mother, would
have her whipped if she continued in it. Catherine
was many times on the point of going over to the
Protestants : she always made good their defeats by
concluding advantageous treaties with them.1 Even
in August 1572, though she was resolved to rid her
self of Colignybeing jealous of the ascendency that
great man had acquired over the weak Charles IX.
she wished to strike only him. She was so far from
thinking of putting an end to the heretics that she
pretended to give them as leader her new son-in-law,
Henri de Navarre, whom she knew how to bend to her
will.2 "Moreover," d'Epernon wrote later, " those who
seemed most hostile to the Huguenots would have been
very sorry to see them destroyed and annihilated ! " 3
Those who commanded that abominable crime, the
massacre of Saint Bartholomew,4 which is equalled in
the history of France only by the massacres of Sep
tember could not offer even religious fanaticism as
their excuse : it was, if we may dare to say it, only an
expedientthe last resource of a sovereign at bay,
after the abortive attempt to assassinate the Admiral
Was Henry III., as the pamphlets of all those
parties which were so bitterly opposed to that un
1 Edict of Amboise, 1563 ; treaty of Longjumeau, 1568 ; treaty of
Saint-Germain, 1570; edict of Beaulieu, 1576; edict of Poitiers,
2 Forneron, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 15.
8 Quoted by l'Epinois, p. 105.
4 Truculentem Mud ac horribilefacinus, says Fr. Theiner.
6 The question of the massacre of Saint Bartholomew has just been
treated afresh by M. Vacandard, Etudes de critique et d'histoire
religieuse. Information as to the chief sources and the works to
consult is to be found therein.
happy prince would have it, only a monster of
hypocrisy, who was personally indifferent to every
creed and sought to weaken the beliefs of others by
vitiating their morals ? * We should dare neither to
affirm nor to believe it. It seems to us more reason
able to accept the opinion of the Nuncio Morosini,
which is the most charitable judgment that can be
formed of the king's two-sided conduct : " The king
evinces remarkable piety, and at the same time hates
the Holy Union ; he is going to make war against
the heretics and he is jealous of the success of the
Catholics. He seems to be a single person, yet, in
the great theatre of the world, he plays the parts of
two : a king full of hope and a king full of fear. He
desires the defeat of the Huguenots, yet he dreads it; he
dreads the defeat of the Catholics, yet he desires it."2
The difficulties in the midst of which he struggled, and
the shameless audacity of his enemies may inspire a
little pity for him, but, when all is said, Henry III.
with his skulls, his little dogs, his favourites, his
his bullies, perfumes, and litters ranks with those
beings whom an honest man would rather see in his
enemies' camp than in his own.
For the complete betrayal of Catholic hopes, only
one thing was wanting : that the king himself should
be a Protestant. This happened in 1589, and it is
easyito believe that, had he remained a Protestant,
he would place thenceforth the whole civil power at
the service of error. Assuredly, the Church of France
would have been very wrong to expect much from
her kings !
1 Etienne Pasquier, in one of his letters, discusses the qualities
of Henry III., but he arrives at the severest conclusions from the
time Henry became king. Book xix. letter 2.
2 Desptach of 1587, quoted by l'Epinois, p. 81.
Could she at least have confidence in herselfin
her own rulers ?
We must acknowledge that the sad state of the
Church was one of the determining causes of the
Reformation. It is true that in 1528 the clergy had
been recalled to their duty by the great Synod of
the province of Sens, which was held at Paris. But
the concordat of 1516 continued to bear hateful
fruits, because the weakness of the Sovereign Pontiffs 1
defended it ill against the capricious interpretations
of the kings. Until the end of the religious wars ec
clesiastical benefices were filled with laymen, soldiers,
and male and female favourites. Households were
set up in bishops' houses and even in abbeys among
the religious, to the great scandal of the people.2 The
witty captain, Pierre de Bourdeille, was abbot of
Brontome; Bussy d'Amboise, the most successful
duellist of his time, was called abbot of Bourgeuil ;
the fierce Montluc possessed an abbey at Sens ; du
Guast, who exercised great influence over Henry III.,
received from His Majesty the bishoprics of Grenoble
and Amiens as a reward for his services : he sold the
one for thirty thousand livres to a young lady of
the court, and the other for forty thousand to the
son of the Seigneur d'Avenson. The bishopric of
Cornouailles was made over as dowry to a young
girl : others were entrusted to children fifteen years
old. We may say with Ronsard to :
" I know not what exquisites, . . .
Perfumed and slashed courtiers and gallants,
Huntsmen and falconers."3
1 Except under Saint Pius V.
2 See the facts cited by Forneron, Les dues de Guise, vol. ii.
p. 205, from the Mimoires of l'Estoile and Saulx-Tavannes.
3 Ronsard, Discours sur les miseres de noire temps. Quoted by
Many of the bishops were politicians ; others lived
like great lords, amiable and cultured ; moreover
and we do not say this by way of reproachthey
were remarkably tolerant towards the persons with
whom they came in contact. Two bishops ' restrained
Francis I. for a long time from striking a blow at
the Waldenses. They were a little too lax in the
matter of doctrine and very negligent in the exercise
of their functions. For the most part they troubled
neither to preach the divine word to the faithful,
nor to have it preached : for many years the heretics
seemed to have the monopoly of the ministry of the
pulpit, and this was, as is commonly admitted, the
most active agent in their progress until the reign of
Charles IX.
The most zealous and capable prelate was the
Cardinal Charles de Lorrainethat Archbishop of
Rheims who was for nearly thirty years the real head
of the French Church. Unfortunately, he joined an
immoderate liking for pleasure, intrigue, and power
with his sense of episcopal duty, and debased himself
by becoming the acknowledged flatterer of Diane de
Moreover, the French bishops were not agreed as
to what line of conduct they should follow. The
opposition between the Cardinals de Lorraine and de
Tournon became apparent at the time of the earliest
troubles. This became much worse when the death
of Henry III. made a heretic prince the lawful heir
Perrand, Revue des Cours litttraires. January 1870. Cf. De Meaux,
Les luttes religieuses, p. 47.
1 P. Duchdtel, the king's chaplain, and Sadolet, Bishop of
Carpentras. Cardinal Charles de Lorraine, himself, long exercised
a wide tolerance.
2 De Meaux, Les luttes religieuses, pp. 48, 49.
to the throne of France. The bishops created by
the concordat found themselves at a loss between
allegiance to the king, the interests of the Church,
and the commands of the Holy See. According to
several trustworthy historians, one hundred bishops
out of a hundred and eighteen had recognised the
Protestant king before the end of 1589.1 We have
reason to believe that this figure is exaggerated, but
it is certain that a large majority of the episcopate
declared in favour of Henry IV. long before his con
version. The Cardinals de Vendome, de Lenoncourt,
and de Gondi joined his partisans ; 2 the first two
took part in his councils and worked actively in his
cause. You know how, in concurrence with them,
the Bishops of Mans, Angers, Chartres, Nantes,
Beauvais, and Bayeux, assembled at Chartres and
declared that the Monitoire which the Pope had pub
lished was null and invalid, because he was " illinformed
of the state of affairs " ; and how, addressing
"true Catholics and good Frenchmen," they asked
the latter to pray with them for the king's conversion
and the peace of the kingdom.8 The Bishop of
Chartres was supposed to be one of those who drew
up the form of oath which the king was to take.
At Autun the clergy remained faithful to the king,
whereas the magistrates pronounced themselves in
favour of the League. At Paris, even at the close
of the terrible siege of 1590, the canons, following
their bishop's example, could hardly disguise their,
1 This is the estimate adopted by the conscientious Poirson, in
his Histoire d' Henri IV., vol. i. p. 157 ; and he submits proofs.
2 See the letter of 10th February 1590 of the Cardinals de
Vendome and de Lenoncourt to the legate, quoted by l'Epinois,
p. 397. Gregory XIV. ordered these three cardinals to abandon
the king's cause, but without success.
3 Letter of 21st September 1591, quoted by l'Epinois, p. 508.
royalist sympathies.1 Finally, four prelates agreed
to countersign the edict of July 1591, which granted
free exercise of religion to the Protestants. This was
the Edict of Nantesa renewal of that of' 1561, which
guaranteed free exercise to both religions. The vicelegate
asked himself if these four prelates ought riot
to be replaced in the government of their churches.
Is it surprising that in many places. the Catholic
populace dared to rise against its pastors ? The
Bishop of Orleans was called " a traitor and an evil
doer " in all the pulpits of his episcopal town ; the
Bishop of Auxerre saw the people stirred up against
him by the Father-Guardian of the Franciscans ; and
the Bishop of Chalons was compelled to flee from
the inhabitants, who had been roused to riot by the
governor himself.
The civil magistrates, and especially the parliaments,
had at first shown both zeal and energy in the perse
cution of heresy. The parliament of Paris had given
the signal in 1525, and had, so to say, surpassed itself
by publishing that extraordinary decree of 1561 which
authorised the people to massacre on the spot those
who were caught in the act of plundering the
churches. The parliament of Aix in 1540 pro
nounced the atrocious sentence of extermination
against the Waldenses. Nevertheless, as the heretics
continued to increase, the tribunals charged to con
demn them were not sufficient for their task in thirty
years' time ; moreover, they wearied of their labour.
Their disputes with the ecclesiastical authorities had
enfeebled the work of suppression and weakened their
zeal. The first words in favour of toleration were
heard in the parliament of Paris when that assembly
saw itself subordinated, as far as proceedings for
1 Letter of the vice-legate to the Pope, January 1591.
heresy were concerned, to the three grand inquisitors
appointed by the Pope.1
For eight years the magistracy and the government
were directed by Michel de l'Hospital, who, under pre
text of toleration, indirectly favoured Protestantism,
towards which he was drawn by tender family ties as
much as by inner leanings. His ideas of theology
were strange, for he conceived a system of toleration
in the form of a compromise between the two religions ;
defeated in this, he dreamt of a state religion which
should comprise only those dogmas which were equally
admitted by Catholics and Protestants. It was but
a vain imagination, but it doubled the boldness of
the innovators ; they looked upon Catholicism as
already half disabled.2
A little later,8 the due d'Alencon and his "poli
ticians" rendered similar services to those of the
reformed religion, though their motives were not so
According to the very apposite remark of the
Marshal de Tavannes, all the authorities in the times
of the wars of religion went either too far or not far
enough ; they were very changeable and never com
pletely carried out their resolves ; therefore, they
made themselves hated, but did not succeed in
inspiring fear.
Even the Guises were always afraid of their agents.
Had they been content to rely frankly upon the
populace, and to arm it, they would have been masters
of the situation, but, like the king, " they feared and
1 This bull of Paul IV. was, however, never strictly executed.
8 The edict which he introduced to the assembly of Saint-
Germain was drawn up in this strain. By the edict of 1 562, he
marked out a sort of doctrinal field which was to be given over to
the Protestant preachers.
In 1574.
believed that the people would form a republic."
They preferred to call in foreigners, and in the end
the foreigners were their ruin. These party leaders,
though much superior to the last Valois, were neither
in virtue nor genius worthy of the tremendous and
almost sublime post which Providence seemed to
have allotted them. Francois de Guise, a hero, and
the one great man in the princely family of the house
of Lorraine, died a victim to Protestant fanaticism,
without having been able to serve the Church as he
had served his country. His son Henri le Balafre
was too rash in action, and too wavering in council ;
the Cardinal Louis de Lorraine was too little worthy
of respect ; and the due de Mayenne was too timid
and slow. All three had so many human and culpable
passions mingled with their devotion to the Church
that they were unworthy of becoming the saviours of
Catholicism ; they were but her champions with more
or less interested motives.1
Finally, though the Catholics might have powerful
armies and good generals, when the royal whim did
not furnish them with indifferent ones, they never
profited by their victories ; politics deprived them of
their fruits until, in the time of Henry IV., the
military power and talent passed over completely to
their adversaries.
When the Catholics were thus disabled from taking
advantage of the considerable powers which seemed
to be at their disposal, the Protestants constituted a
party marvellously well organised for attack and
1 M. de Meaux says of Henri de Guise : " He was too busy
playing a fine part to serve a great cause well. He thought he
saw a crown within his reach, and under the appearance of a subtle
policy he hid the vacillation of a soul which was neither lofty
enough to forego the desire of it, nor strong enough to seize it."
Les luttes religieuses au XVI* sicei'c, p. 21 6.
defence. As the eminent historian M. de Meaux
very aptly remarks, the more they felt scattered and
foreign in the midst of a Catholic people, the more
the national genius and institutions closed all doors
against them, and the more they combined with each
other, so much the more they became accustomed to
rely upon themselves alone.1 They had a political as
well as a religious government ; they exercised absolute
authority over the towns and provinces of which they
had possessed themselves, and levied taxes to defray
the expenses of worship and of the war ; 2 they elected
protectors, and finally they saw the king himself at
their head. They formed thus a most enterprising
republic in the bosom of a state in which everything
was loose and tottering. Animated with an unusual
spirit of independence, they were preserved from
anarchy by the imminence of the perils that threatened
them, and they were maintained in the necessary
cohesion by the very mass of the adversaries who
pressed upon them.
They had a single idea : to possess themselves of
power and substitute their beliefs for those of the
majority. They had menConde\ Coligny, Duplessis-
Mornay, la Noue, d'Aubigne"who might have been
great citizens in different times, as in these they were,
by reason of their enlightenment and perseverance,
excellent party leaders. They had allies : within,
many malcontents who supported their enterprises,
sometimes under one name sometimes under another;8
1 Les luttes religieuse en France, p. 106.
2 In 1572 they levied contributions to the amount of eight
hundred thousand livres, which they could have doubled ; they
were able to place in the field in a month as many troops as the
king could in four.
8 Memoirs of the times (Saulx-Tavannes, Castelnau, etc.) are
without, their co-religionists who entered into all their
plots ; * they held considerable and compact portions
of French territory, that is to say, so many citadels
in which they could take refuge and whence they
could make opportune attacks.2 In short, their
power in troubled times was immense, and they
hesitated at nothing; and although they brought
the art of seeming martyrs to a high perfection,
they were the instigators of every violence.3 The
deeds of fanaticism which the Protestants committed
everywhere, their vandalism, which respected neither
the most beautiful nor the most cherished images,
and destroyed in a day the work of centuries, pro
voked the Catholics and led to the first acts of
repression. It was they who began the Civil War in
1562,4 and, by their untimely and needless assaults
in 1567, rendered all good faith and peace-making
ineffectual for years.5 At this epoch, they were the
firstas Voltaire points outto justify political
murder and regicide ; long before the preachers of
the League had hinted at the possibility of the murder
of Henry III., the Calvinist pastors had urged the
murder of Catherine de Medici and Charles IX. ; the
vindications of Poltrot de Mere' preceded those of
unanimous as to the part played by the "malcontents" under
Francois II., Charles IX., and Henri III.
1 English and Germans. In 1574 Conde, who succeeded in
escaping, negotiated the alliance between Johann-Casimir, son of
the Elector Palatine, and the malcontents and French Calvinists.
2 In 1560, Nimes, Montpellier, etc., became formidable Calvinist
strongholds ; also the domains of the Houses of Bourbon and Albret.
8 Anterior to the massacre of Vassy, there were assaults, together
with pillage and slaughter, made by the Protestants at Castres,
Lavaur, and Montpellier.
4 Manifesto of the Prince de Conde.
6 La Ferriere, La 2* guerre civile, la pais de Longjumeaux. Rev.
des questions historiques, vol. xxxvii.
Jacques Cle'ment by twenty-six years ; the ministers
proclaimed from the pulpit that that wretch had acted
by " divine inspiration," and extolled him as a hero,
a martyr, and a saint. That Protestant hand intro
duced the horrid custom of assassination into the war ;
and they were Protestant lips that first glorified it.1
Finally it was the Protestants who, after long pre
meditation,2 brought foreigners into the kingdom, and
that not merely as auxiliary forces, as did the generals
of the king or the League. The due d'Aumale writes :
"Neither the papal auxiliaries nor the concourse of
Spanish troops that had just entered Gascony and
Paris had been paid with ceded territory. And then
to open the portal of France to the English ! To
abandon to those old enemies a corner of the soil of
that fatherland which they had laid waste for a hundred
years ! To deliver up to them the mouth of the Seine,
when they had hardly quitted Calais ! " 3
What a difference between Guise and Conde",
between the Catholics and the Huguenots ! As soon
as Francis de Guise heard of the landing of the
English at Havre he made offers of peace to the
prince, promising him free and peaceful exercise of
the reformed religion throughout the kingdom, if
he would agree to the union of their forces in order
to expel "the old enemies of the crown." The
Protestants refused.4
Under the pretext of punishing the enemies of
God they began to hate their very native land,
1 See Labitte, The preachers of the League, p. 55 ; and Recueil de
poesies calvinistes (1550-1560), published by P. Tasbe, correspondent
of the Institute, Rheims, 1866.
2 Hector de la Ferriere, La Normandie a Fetranger, chap, i., proves
the fact of this long premeditation.
* Histoire des Princes de Conde, vol. i. p. l6l.
4 Forneron, Les dues de Guise, vol. i. p. 354.
borrowing for their self-deception and encouragement
the fiercest songs of the old biblical poesy : *
" Fille de Babylon, race ingratte et maudicte,
Heureux qui te rendra le mal que tu nous faics,
Et balancant l'injure & l'ega] de l'atteinte,
Ira d'entre tes bras tes petits arracher,
Et, de leur sang pollu rendant la terre teinte,
Froisser leur tendres os encontre le rocher."
Neither the 6migr6s of the Revolution nor the
persecuted Catholics, thank God, adopted such a tone.
It is easy to realise that the Protestants, fired
with such fanaticism and benefiting by such perfect
organisation, would, in spite of their small number,
be able to take the offensive against the Catholic
body, and to count upon that ultimate destruction
of it which they achieved in part wherever they
obtained the mastery. History shows us that such
minorities often involve the most imposing majorities
in similar destruction.
The Catholics would be assured of victory only
when they too should form themselves into a party.2
1 Psalm cxxxvi. 8, 9, Douai Version : " O daughter of Babylon,
miserable : blessed shall he be who shall repay thee thy payment
which thou hast paid us. Blessed he that shall take and dash thy
little ones against the rock." The quotation in the text is from a
metrical version similar to that in use in the English and Scottish
Presbyterian churches. Translator.
2 Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes gives excellent expression to this
idea when he says that the events of 1567 led him "to think that
integrity was as well able to supply good men with means of
preservation as wickedness was to provide rebels with the means
of attacking them ; that the Huguenots could not be more devoted
to their party than the Catholics to the old religion, and that those
who upheld them with their lives could use their wealth to support
the king " ; thereupon he " resolved to pit intellect against intellect,
and league against league." Memoires, Petitot collection, 1st series,
vol. xxiv. p. 450.
However, a distinct defining of Catholic opinion was
necessary to the formation of a Catholic party. Its
constitution and direction was the work of the best
of the secular clergy and especially of two great
religious Orders, the Jesuits and the Capuchins.
Protestants had for forty years past used preaching
as a means of increasing the number of their adherents
when the Catholic clergy decided to answer them
with the same method. Michel de Castelnau, in his
Memoires, gives a useful account of the time and
manner of this little revolution ; it was in 1562, just
when the outburst of civil war had opened men's
eyes to the true state of affairs. " In these times," he
says, " as many things came to pass by example, or
by imitation, or by desire of improvement, the bishops
or doctors, theologians, parish priests, religious, and
other Catholic pastors, began to consider these new
preachers who were so zealous and ardent in the
advancement of their religion, and they took thence
forth more pains in the care of their flocks and the
discharge of their duties, and some began to study
the Sacred Scriptures in emulation of the Protestant
ministers who attracted the people from all parts :
and fearing lest these same ministers should have
an advantage over them by reason of their sermons
and that they should thereby attract Catholics, they
began also to preach more often than they had been
wont, warning their audience to beware of the heresies
of the new teachers, under pain of incurring the wrath
of God by departing from His true Church." *
In the same year when the posting of the disgrace
ful placards against the Sacrifice of the Mass and the
Sacrament of the Altar upon the very door of the
1 Memoires of Castelnau, 1562. Petitot collection, 1st series,
vol. xxxiii. p. 158.
royal apartments had determined Francis I. to repress
the insolent attempts of heresy, God gave to His
Church that powerful and holy company which was
to teach Catholics to realise their position and to
assert themselves.1 Minds were enlightened, beliefs
confirmed, and hearts fortified. Those who were
settled in their convictions and boldly resolved to
support them were enlisted ; the timid and hesitating
were passed over ; they went to swell the ranks of
the political party, but ceased to paralyse the action
of the determined Catholics. The clergy received
firm and secure government ; the cures of poor
parishes, the pious priests, saw whence true Christian
reform was to come, and were no longer liable, as in
the time of Henry II., to stray into apostasy. The
continuance of the same abuses still roused their
indignation under Henry III., but thenceforth there
was a system of Catholic government in which their
place was clearly marked.
The mendicant friars, especially the Capuchins,
" went through the towns, villages, and private houses
to admonish each and all," and to urge the Catholics
to defend their faith strenuously. " And they
showed the people that all Christians for fifteen or
sixteen hundred years had held the Catholic Faith
which the Protestants were trying to overthrow and
wrest from them, and that it was impossible that so
many kings, princes, and great persons should have
erred so long and have been deprived of the grace of
God and the blood of Jesus Christ, for to say so was
to blaspheme against His goodness and to accuse Him
of injustice."2 Besides doctrine they preached the
1 On the part played by the Jesuits consult Forneron, Les dues
de Guise, vol. ii. p. 207.
2 Memoires of Castelnau, ibid. p. 1 59.
reform of morals, and penance : they were readily
believed because they themselves set the example.
Public opinion was not deceived : we learn from the
legate Caetani's report to Sixtus the Fifth that the
preservation of religion in France was attributed to
the exemplary lives of the Jesuits and Capuchins.1
Assuredly we do not pretend to justify every
utterance from the Catholic pulpits during the last
sad years of the sixteenth century. Time after time
they rang with atrocious calumnies and criminal
instigations, which led too often to regrettable con
sequences.2 At times of crisis it was the revolution
ary passions which spoke and came into action :
inflammatory discourses gave rise to horrible excesses.
At Orleans, three years before the massacre of
Saint Bartholomew, the people "roused by the
preachers " massacred the Protestants, who took
refuge in the prisons, without distinction of sex or
age. They were unable to force the door of one of
the prisons, so they set fire to it, thus causing two
hundred and eighty of the unhappy victims to perish
by suffocation or burning. But should even such
abominations make us forget the work of doctrinal
and moral improvement which was accomplished in
the heart of French Catholicism by the orthodox
preachers ? I admit that they produced fanatics, but
fanaticism was temporary, and the safety of the true
religion was guaranteed for centuries, because they
had also and above all regenerated true Catholics.
The Protestants' example of local violence, which
the popular imagination likened to the barbarous
treatment Elizabeth of England meted out to
1 In a letter dated 1589 quoted by l'Epinois, La Ligue et les Papes,
p. 364.
2 See Labitte, Les Predicateurs de la Ligue.
Catholics, was generally the determining cause of
the first partial or local unions entered upon by the
ecclesiastics, nobles, and citizens, for the purpose of
"defending the honour of God and of the Holy
Roman Catholic Church." l At first, the movement
was planned and nearly always directed by the gentry
or by persons of importance.2 It became popular and
general when the death of the Due dAnjou made
Jeanne d Albret's son heir to the throne. The people's
faith was roused, and, to prevent their being governed
by a Protestant king, they formed spontaneously, in
Paris and many other towns, unions which, when
they were combined, constituted the League. The
condition of membership was that one should be
neither a Protestant nor a political factionist, but
should ardently wish to defend the Catholic Faith.
In each town a council was to be in communication
with the general council in Paris, to collect funds,
and to recruit soldiers.3 According to the primitive
plan, even the rural parish priests were to draw up a
list of all their parishioners who were able to carry
arms. A sole head was to govern the union. The
Pope and the King of Spain would give their aid. If
the king were to die without children, all the troops
were to assemble within a fortnight between Paris
and Orleans in order to protect the States-General
1 The League was pre-eminently an association for lawful defence.
" As the Huguenots were preserved by union, in like manner the
Catholics had no means of preservation save by uniting themselves.
. . ." Letters of union to be sent to the whole of Christendom,
January 1589. Memories de la Ligue, vol. iii. p. 167.
* Cf. l'Epinois, La Ligue et les Papes, pp. 5-7. Thus the League
of Picardy had a president assisted by a council consisting of six
gentlemen of the province and three syndics, one for the towns,
one for the ecclesiastics, and one for the people.
3 See the projects of March-April 1587, in l'Epinois, p. 72.
which would be convoked to elect a Catholic
It is superfluous to relate here how the League,
which at first respected the sovereign's right, soon
became the instrument of the Guises, and was gradu
ally led into principles and practices not in the least
consonant with the traditional monarchy. The day
of the Barricades and the murder of Henri de Guise
caused the League to repudiate Henry III. irre
vocably ; the accession of Henry IV. induced it to
renounce that which had been accepted for centuries
as a fundamental law of the state.
An extraordinary change of attitude took place.
The Protestants, who had sustained quasi-republican
theories of an extremely liberal and democratic
character against Henry II. and Charles IX., now
adopted with enthusiasm that theory which was held
dear by those in countries where the temporal power
was on their side, namely that slavish and pagan
dogma of absolute passive submission to the lawful
sovereign, though he be a Nero. The Catholics, on
the contrary, embraced the doctrines which the
Protestants had abandoned.
Indeed, if resistance was ever lawful, if rupture
with the hereditary monarchy and the establishment
of a new dynasty were ever justified, it was at the
death of the last Valois. Except for a legal fiction
which might have been ignored in a matter of im
portance to the whole community the Bourbons were
related no less distantly than the Guises to the house
which had just become extinct. Moreover, according
to the traditional custom, it was not only necessary
1 L'Epinois, op. cit. p. 71.
M. de Meaux explains it at some length, Les luttes religieuses,
etc., p. 215 et seq.
that the heir to the throne of France should be his
predecessor's next-of-kin in the male line, but also
that he should be a Catholic.1 Since the time of
Clovis there had been Carlovingian kings and
Capetian kings, but there had never been a heretic
king. If a prolonged estrangement between the
tendencies of a reigning family and the social and
political state of a nation justifies in the eyes of every
intelligent man a change of dynasty such as France
has twice accomplished, how is it that, at this epoch
especially, the religious opposition of the people to
the heir to the throne did not suffice to authorise the
transfer of the crown ? This rule prevailed in England
as late as the eighteenth century, and Protestant
writers find nothing amiss in it, as far as I am aware.
Now, not only was Henri of Navarre a relapsed
heretic, but there was every reason to fear that, once
master of the state, he would enforce his belief upon
his subjects, after the manner of other Protestant
princes : was not this expected of him by most of
his co-religionists ?
Doubtless he amused himself by repeating, and the
Catholics of his party repeated after him "that he
would have himself instructed, but that he would not
be driven to Mass with blows." 2 In fact, however,
he deferred this instruction from day to day, and
employed every subterfuge in order to avoid a
necessity which he thought too grievous.
" My sword," said he, " is of more value in govern
ment than the Cardinal's ritual. The fulminations
of the Roman consistory will not melt it."
Nevertheless, this was nearly the case ; if Henri of
1 The coronation oath exacted a profession of the Catholic Faith.
' The words of the Marshal de Biron to the legate Caetani,
March 1590, quoted by l'Epinois, p. 417.
Navarre had not become a Catholic, he would never
have been King of France, and he would not have
become a Catholic if the armed resistance of the
French had not compelled him. The king did not
conquer his kingdom : the kingdom conquered its
In the eyes of all Catholics our glorious Paris has
an imperishable title to honour in that, amid these
formidable circumstances which placed the future of
French Catholicism at stake, she played the part of
head and leader of France. There are some who are
too ready to laugh at certain episodes of the five
years' heroic resistance of the capital against the
Protestant armies. In situations of extreme gravity
the sentiment of the ludicrous disappears, or rather,
nothing is any longer ridiculous. Moreover, they
affect ignorance above all of the fact that, although
there was in Paris then, as at all times, a revolutionary
scum capable of the most theatrical and ferocious
demonstrations, and of still worse forms of violence,
the mass of the populace was, nevertheless, of ad
mirable dispositions of faith, piety, and resignation.
This great city, the most fearless in the kingdom,
was also the most deeply religious. Michel de
Castelnau remarks that from the beginning of the
religious wars while the churches in many places
were closed as soon as Mass was said, in Paris they
had to be left open all day long, for they were
frequented at all hours : Masses were said until
midday and after noon pious congregations succeeded
one another until evening "with the offering of
candles and other gifts." Since piety can hardly
exist without charity, no city had more hospitals and
foundations of practical utility. In this matter as in
so many others, Paris was the admiration "of
strangers and people of all kinds."1 In 1590 Villeroi
faithfully echoed the testimony of Castelnau : " We
can say truly that God is as well served there as
in any part of the world." 2 Thus the conduct of the
Parisians from the assassination of Henri de Guise
until the conversion of Henry IV. was determined
by true convictions and not by a transient mania
which was skilfully exploited by the fanatical and
the ambitious. They had been long equipped by
prayer to sustain, without garrison and almost with
out provisions, the horrors of a siege which contem
poraries could liken only to that of Jerusalem. The
gentlemen who surrounded the King of Navarre did
not understand " that a crowd of porters, journeymen,
labourers, and effeminates could take it into their
heads to oppose them." 3 These labourers and
effeminatesas a historian has eloquently said
decided, nevertheless, the fate of France and of
religion as far as such a work is dependent upon
the efforts of man.4
These are sublime acts and sentiments which
the wearied citizens who wrote the Satyre Menippte
were not capable of understanding. They express
the general indifference with good sense and often
with literary merit, but they do not rise to a single
generous idea. The religious sentiment, which, it
is true, they had grievously abused, touches no chord
in their souls ; even the patriotic sentiment seems but
subsidiary to the interest of, and desire for, tran
quillity. These citizens are the worthy fathers of
1 Mimoires of Castelnau, 1562. Petitot collection, 1st series, vol.
xxxiii. p. 169.
i Memoires de Villeroi. Petitot collection, 1st series, vol. xliv.
p. 194.
8 These expressions are borrowed from de Thou, bk. xcix.
* De Meaux, Les luttes religieuses, etc., p. 131.
those who in 1815 welcomed the disaster of Waterloo.
As writers, their partiality is extreme and the talent
very uneven. Although the first effusions may not
be devoid of relish and entertainment, the most
famous, that of Daubray, is nothing but an endless
rhapsody, a cumbersome and deceitful compilation
of history, interrupted here and there with de
clamations in imitation of the classics. If it were
written against the Huguenots it would attract, to
a certainty, fewer admirers. Of half Protestant and
half Gallican inspiration (as is, indeed, the whole
work, whatever be said to the contrary) it has given
many historians and critics an opportunity of attack
ing Catholicism under the hypocritical masks of
patriotism and reason. Was not this sufficient
reason for their proclaiming it a masterpiece "the
place of which is assigned for ever between Rabelais
and Pascal"?1
I do not wish, however, to imply that civil war
was not to be put down. Civil war had long assumed
an atrocious character, and degenerated into brigand
age, " an inexhaustible source," says Castelnau, " of
every wickedness, of thefts, robberies, murders, in
cests, parricides, and other vices as heinous as can be
imagined ; for which there was neither curb nor any
punishment. And the worst was that in this war
the arms that had been taken up in defence of
religion annihilated all religion and piety, and
produced like a corrupt and putrid corpse, the
vermin and pestilence of innumerable atheists."2
France, divided against herself, no longer played any
1 This oft-repeated formula is from Ch. Labitte, at the end of
the introduction of his edition of the Salyre Menippee. Paris, 1841.
*Mimoires of Castelnau, year 1563. Petitot collection, vol.
xxxiii. p. 295.
but a wretched part in European affairs. Foreigners
became her masters ; the English and the Germans
dictated their conditions to the King of Navarre ;
and the Spanish, on their own confession, sought
only to foster the war, unless a fortunate circum
stance should afford them the opportunity of ending
it by placing the daughter of their sovereign on the
throne of France.
The restoration of the royal power, either by the
election of a Catholic prince, or by the conversion of
Henry IV., was the only remedy for these evils.
The latter alternative was much more desirable
than the former, provided that it was clinched by
guarantees that assured its irrevocability. The party
of the King of Navarre, in fact, was so strong that
the election of any other prince would certainly
entail a prolongation of the civil struggles, the
possibility of a division of the kingdom, and, in
either case, permanent foreign intervention. How
was Henry IV. to be expelled from the provinces
he occupied ? How was the natural authority which
he held in virtue of his birth to be transferred to
another? This was the plea which the Catholics
attached to the King of Navarre, and especially the
nobles, continually put forward. Immediately after
the death of Henry III., the Duke de Nevers, who
was nevertheless half in sympathy with the League,
begged his kinsman Cardinal de Gonzaga to pave the
way for the success of the Luxembourg mission,
which was sent to Rome by Henry IV. "It is
impossible," said he, "to hope for good except by
the king's conversion. This is the true way, the
shortest, and the surest, to pacify the kingdom and
re-establish the Catholic religion." Cardinal de
Vendome in a letter addressed to the Sovereign
Pontiff in 1590 1 corroborates these words by the
most explicit statements, and the legate Caetani was
constrained, in spite of his strong predilection in
favour of the League, to avow that " if Navarre gives
the smallest sign of Catholicism, the people are so far
disposed to accept him that, humanly speaking, it
will be impossible to deprive him of the kingdom." a
Being very favourably impressed by this advice,
as well as by certain words of Henry IV. which had
been reported to him, Sixtus V. refused to break
with the Catholics of the royal party. He was even
ready, if the prince asked him, to reconcile him to
the Church.3 The Spanish ambassador to Rome
could no longer restrain his anger. " We have under
stood," cried the Pope, "he wishes us to excom
municate the supporters of the King of Navarre, and
we have a mind to excommunicate him and expel
him from Rome."4
It needed the evident bad faith of Henry IV. to
modify these inclinations of the Holy Father and to
turn public opinion in his own kingdom against him.
The growth of the Spanish party after the battle of
Ivry was astonishing. Deputations were sent to the
Escurial from Languedoc, from Burgundy, and from
Brittany ; at Amiens it was said openly that they
1 26th April. Letter cited by l'Epinois, p. 427.
2 Caetani to Sixtus V., 15th February 1590, quoted by l'Epinois,
p. 396.
8 Cf. Instructions de Sixte-Quint d, Caetani, 1589, l'Epinois, pp.
353, 409. On 14th January 1590 Piney- Luxembourg protests to
Sixtus V. that the king was anxious to be converted : " Assure
the Pope upon my word as king, that I wish to be, to prove myself,
and to die the eldest son of the Roman Catholic Church."
L'Epinois, p. 385.
4 L'Epinois, p. 409. March 1590.
would give themselves to Philip III. rather than
accept the Navarrais ; Grenoble sent for the Spanish
troops of the Duke de Terranova, and Paris sent one
of her sheriffs to implore the help of the Duke de
But in 1592, after three more years of warfare
without decisive result, all began to look once more
towards the King of Navarre. The Duke de Nevers
renewed his entreaties to Clement VIII. ; the Duke
de Mayenne entered into secret negotiations with his
adversary through the mediation of Villeroi ; 1 finally
even the citizens of Paris, whose councils were fre
quently held, decided to beg the lieutenant-general
to send a deputation to the prince for the purpose
of entreating him to become a Catholic. Mayenne
confined himself to answering that he was about to
convoke the States-General: they met at Paris in
January 1593.
Few assemblies have been more dishonoured in
history, and with greater injustice. The character
of true national representation has been denied it,
although it included deputies of all the orders in
considerable numbersforty-nine from the clergy,
twenty-four from the nobility, and fifty-five from the
Third State, and from all the provinces except Languedoc.
2 Those elected for this government had
shrunk from the dangers of the journey and the
threats of the king. Was it not in any case more
weighty than those assemblies which, sanctioning the
plots and recognising the pretensions of Philippe the
Long and Philippe de Valois, had, less than three
1 The history of these negotiations may be found in l'Epinois,
pp. 569-577.
2 At the States of Blois in 1576 there were: Clergy 104,
Nobility 72, Commonalty 150.
centuries before, excluded women and afterwards
their descendants from the crown of France ? The
deputies have been mocked. They were men of con
siderable worth, generally capable, and of great piety.1
All authority has been refused them, and yet the fact
is that they had hardly met when they appeared to
be invested with the right of supreme arbitrament.
After the first session the royalists asked to make
terms with them and their letter was signed by a
secretary of Henry IV. In spite of his former pro
tests this prince, like the King of Spain, agreed to
refer the dispute to the elected representatives of
These representatives behaved like patriots. Their
relations with the Duke de Feria, the Spanish am
bassador, were always characterised by perfect dignity.
The Bishop of Senlis, one of the most ardent Leaguers,
did not hesitate to represent to him with the utmost
vehemence that France was determined never to be
governed by a foreign prince. Finally, Desportes,
another ardent Leaguer, admits that the triumph of
the King of Navarre was due to " the persistence of
the Spanish in wanting the Infanta in opposition to
our laws."2
Good Frenchmen in their conferences with the
representatives of Philip II., the delegates of the
States-General, were not less good Catholics in their
1 M. de Meaux is more severe; he says that they were com
posed of very mediocre elements. The list of deputies and of the
districts they represented may be found in Proces-verbaux des Etats
gen^raux de 1593, A. Bernard. (Collection des documents inedits.)
We note with pleasure that M. Mariejol, in the Histoire de France
of Lavisse, expresses a like opinion to ours. "The States," says
he, " had a very lofty sense of their dignity, etc. . . ." Vol. iv.
p. 368.
2 Letter of 22nd July 1593, cited by l'Epinois, p. 592.
conferences with the representatives of Henry IV.
They gave way upon no point in which principle was
involved. Although they agreed to the conferences,
they did so on condition that they were held between
Catholics only : each deputation was led by an arch
bishopthe Royalists by the Archbishop of Bourges,
and Leaguers by the Archbishop of Lyon.1 Finally,
after mature deliberation, the States informed the
king that they definitely refused to treat with him so
long as he should not be a Catholic.
Henry IV. bowed to the national will. He as
sembled his council and declared that it was his
intention to send shortly for certain bishops and
doctors in order that they might instruct him.
The royalist delegates immediately conveyed the
good news to the States, who consented to resume
the conferences, and assigned the 17th May for the
holding of the first. On the 1st June the president
Vetus came on behalf of the Duke de Mayenne to
express to the assembly his desire that the King of
Navarre should change his religion. On the 13th
and 21st the Spanish lost their cause through the
very excess of their pretensions ; the Archbishop of
Lyon and Claude de la Chastre made, in favour of
the Salic Law and the Bdarnais, declarations which,
in view of their position in the League, were re
echoed far and wide.2 The king, on his side, kept
his promise ; after assisting at a conference between
representatives of the two religions, he once more
placed himself in the hands of the Catholic prelates
1 Renand de Beamne and Pierre d'Epinac. The Abb6 Richard
has thrown much light on the part played by the latter in his im
portant work upon P. d'Epinac. (Paris and Lyon, undated.)
2 On the 20th July Mayenne announced to the Spanish that he
was obliged to conclude a truce with the king.
and doctors. The issue was so little doubtful that
he had already given all his orders to the end that
the coronation ceremony might follow immediately
upon the final instruction, which he reserved to be
given at Saint-Denis, and the formality of abjuration.1
At length, on the 25th July, before the Archbishop
of Bourges and numerous witnesses, Henry IV. pro
nounced the decisive words which, in the beautiful
phrase of Saint Francis of Sales, " making him a
child of the Church, made him the Father of his
kingdom." *
Catholic France and the Church had conquered.
It would, however, be unjust to look upon the
conversion of Henry IV. as nothing but an interested
actthe final resource to which that prince was
driven by his last military checks, the vacillations
of his party, and the assembling of the States.
Undoubtedly, Henry IV. understood that it was
impossible to conquer the whole of France by force,
and that the only means of preventing the election
of a rival which was left to him was to become a
Catholic, but he was deeply sensible also of the
horrible misery and the abyss of ills into which he
would plunge the kingdom, should he continue the
war, and try to reign in spite of his Protestantism.
"What would you have?" he said to one of his
co-religionists ; " what would you have ? If I do not
become a Catholic, there will be to-morrow no France."
Too enlightened to be without religion, in spite of
the disorders of his life, he believed, nevertheless, that
1 See Lettres missives. The coronation did not actually take
place until February 1594 at Chartres. The abjuration took place
at Saint-Denis the 24th July 1593.
2 On the Conversion of Henri IV. see Yves de La Briere's very
interesting pamphlet in the Science et Religion collection (1905).
it was possible to save his soul in both communions,
and certain ministers of his party confirmed him in
this idea. Under the influence of eminent Catholics,
especially of Du Perron, he overcame his intimate and
tenacious sympathies with the teaching to which he
had voluntarily returned in 1576, and adopted the
religion of his subjects in good faith. The national
sentiment had awakened in him the Catholic senti
ment, as it had revived the monarchic sentiment in
the Leaguers.
The States-General now terminated their eight
months' session. They had accomplished their work
and preserved the unity of France without rupture
of her fundamental law that the king must be French
and the king must be Catholic. If they did not
recognise Henry IV. immediately after his conversion,
it was because the more than trifling conduct of
the prince, which was peculiarly out of place at
that grave time, seemed to indicate the necessity
for guarantees of sincerity, and especially because
Henry IV. could not be considered a true member
of the Roman Church so long as he had not received
definite and valid absolution from the Sovereign
This absolution was withheld for more than two
yearsa long delay, and humiliating to the crown of
France, a delay, however, that was justified.
Is the Church an open house, whence one departs
and whither one enters again at will ? Are princes
above her laws ? Moreover, was it not fitting that
when he had done so much harm to Catholicism
Henry IV. should furnish the head of the Church
with earnest guarantees for the future? How dis
graceful and perilous if he had returned to heresy !
In fine, could the Holy See honourably abandon
indefinitely a line of conduct that it had adopted
only under the unavoidable pressure of circumstances
and of imperious duty ? 1 It was not gaiety, caprice,
or passion that made the Pope a Leaguer. The
conscientious historian of La Ligue et les Papes has
proved this beyond all question: to approve the
League it had been necessary for Rome to see in it
the only force that was capable of crushing, by its very
violence, the violence of the Protestant movement.
Again, how carefully had she, at the outset, denounced
all rebellion against the sovereign ! Even when con
fronted by a heretical prince, declaring that she would
never recognise him, and calling upon the Royalists
to abandon him, she did not wish to break off her
relations with them. She had always affirmed that
France must have an orthodox king, but she had
always considered possible and always favoured the
return of the Leaguers to the monarchic principle,
and that of the Royalists and of the king to the
Catholic principle. This is the key to her apparent
contradictions, and in this is the constant unity of
her policy. "The inability of Sixtus the Fifth's
moderation to induce the King of Navarre to be
converted was ample justification for Gregory the
Fourteenth's warlike endeavours to set the heretical
prince aside ; and, in like manner, the failure of this
military intervention justified a reversion to the con
ciliatory but firm policy of Clement VIII."2 Was
it to be expected that, at the first sign of submission,
Rome should give herself up entirely to the king's
interests, and that she should lay aside the only
1 It is well known that Sixtus V. was much gratified by the
treaty of Nemours (1585) because the king had joined the
a L'Epinois, La Ligue et les Papes, p. 664.
weapon which enabled her to safeguard the interests
of the faithful and of the Church ? *
At length, compelled by these pressing considera
tions, Clement VIII. yielded. The French magistracy
and clergy became so incensed that schism seemed
imminent ; 2 first d'Ossat, then du Perron, submitted
adequate reasons and solid promises for the considera
tion of the Pope ; the Jesuits Acquaviva and Toleto
took up the king's cause 3 ; Saint Philip Nerinot
without a smile, I thinkcommanded Baronius, the
Pope's confessor, to tell his penitent that he could
not give him absolution unless he in his turn absolved
the King of France ; the populace of Rome, angered
by the Spanish intrigues, insulted the Duke de
Sessa's pages, and threatened to set fire to his house.
The Holy Father realised that the time had come,
and let himself bend.* On Sunday, 17th September
1595, the pontifical pardon descended upon the kneel
ing representatives of the king, and the reconciliation
of the royal house of France with the Roman Church
was sealed.
France, by her firmness in defence of the faith,
deserved to be honoured above all contemporary
peoples. Through the preservation of France in the
faith, Catholicism had won its cause and secured its
empire. A new epoch of power and honour was to
open to victorious orthodoxy and to France once
more at peace.
1 This view of the matter was presented by Clement VIII. to the
Duke de Nevers, who was sent to Rome by Henry IV.
2 L'Epinois, op. cit. p. 623.
3 Prat, Recherches historiques sur la Compagnie de Jesus au temps du
P. Cotton, vol. i. p. 233.
4 The Abbe Degert, Le Cardinal d'Ossat, sa vie el ses negotiations
a Rome. Paris, 1 89*.
How did the Catholic Church defend herself against
Protestantism? The characteristics of her own
reformation l
In the course of the year 1534 three men were to be
met in the streets of Pariswhere adherents of all
parties rubbed elbows, and where the elements of
which modern society is composed were in a state of
fermentthree men who may be regarded as the
embodiment of the three great moral tendencies of
their time : they were Calvin for the Protestant
Reformation ; Rabelais for the Renaissance ; and
Ignatius Loyola for the Catholic Reformation which
was at last about to be accomplished.
The time had come when the Church, recovering
her presence of mind in the presence of her enemies,
set herself to choose between the good and the evil
in the aspirations which the intellectual and religious
movement of the century revealed among Christian
1 Except in the general histories of the Church there is no com
plete account of the Catholic Reformation of the sixteenth century
in French. Histoire de la Papante" pendant le XV1 et XVII" siecles
(French translation by Cheron) is very good reading ; also the Introduc
tion to Sixtus V. by M. de Hubner (French translation. Paris, 1882).
IThe short summary by M. Ch^non in PHistoire ge'nerale by Lavisse
and Rambaud, vol. v. chap, i., is very accurate and gives an excellent
bibliography. Information on the history of this period may be
gathered from works relating to the Council of Trent and from
many memoirs and lives of saints. In 1881 Maurenbrecher pub
lished at Bonn Geschichte der Kathol. Reformation.
What do we perceive when we contemplate this
movement in its entirety ?
We are confronted by a principle which is destruc
tive of all positive faith, that of free inquiry, which
leads either to the rationalistic naturalism of the
disciples of the Renaissance, or to the religious
individualism of Protestants. In opposition to this
principle with which she could make no compromise
the Church upheld the principle of authority and
proclaimed the excellence of the spirit of sacrifice, of
self-renunciation in the most absolute form, that is
to say, in the form in which the religious orders
conceive it and force themselves to practise it.
A tendency towards mysticism, a great desire for
sanctification, for intimate union with our Lord Jesus
Christ, this is the loftiest and noblest characteristic
in the origin of Protestantism. To the intellectual
mysticism which is due to subjective illusions and
takes no account of works, the Church opposed true
mysticism and true holiness which is in accord with
dogma and authority and manifests itself by works,
apostleship, and action.
Lastly is seen an almost universal desire for the
clergy to reform and to live in a manner more worthy
of their holy vocationa desire that was certainly
legitimate but was oppressed very often by violence
and the brutal overthrow of the hierarchy and tradition.
The Church answered the false reformation by a true
one. She became regenerate herself and so regained
her dominion over hearts and minds in a great part
of Europe and also went forth by her missions to the
conquest of new worlds.
Such is the glorious and reassuring spectacle which
I invite you to contemplate with me for a brief space.
The Church, as her first duty, exerts her authority
to oppose free inquiry which discusses and argues
ad infinitum} She asserts this authority with the
utmost energy ; the Council of Trent as her mouth
piece declares that she is " the pillar and ground of
truth " (1 Tim. iii. 15).2 She speaks in the name
of Jesus Christ Himself; see for example how she
defines the doctrine of justification. "As certain
erroneous sentiments and a doctrine that is entirely
contrary to the truth have been spread abroad in
these latter days concerning justification . . . the
holy Council of Trent . . . has resolved to the honour
and glory of Almighty God ... to set forth for all
faithful Christians the true and sound doctrine such
as the sun of justice our Lord Jesus Christ taught
it . . ."8
All the questions raised by Protestants she answers
by distinct and precise definitions which she upholds
with her anathema : whosoever does not accept them
places himself ipso facto beyond the pale of the
Church and outside the way of salvation.
She strengthens the character and asserts the rights
of her hierarchy. There is a sacerdotal order what
ever Protestants pretend to the contrary ; 4 every
Christian is not a priest ; it is not the people, nor the
magistrates, nor the secular power, whatever it be,
which makes the priest ; the ecclesiastical hierarchy
1 M. Baugenault de Puchesse (Paris, 1870) has given us a
useful summary of the Histoire de concile de Trente. All the docu
ments relating to the Council are not yet published. Various
series of them have been published by Mansi, le Plat, Mendham,
Theiner, Calenzio, Von Druffel, Th. Sickel. Cf. the histories of
Scarpi and of Pallavicini.
2 Sess. xiii. chap. i.
8 Sess. vi. Provemium.
4 Sess. xxiii. de Ordine.
is " an army drawn up in battle array," the bishops
who have succeeded to the posts of the Apostles are
the chief constituents of this hierarchical order.
They are commissioned in the name of the Holy
Ghost to govern the Church ; they are higher than the
priests and in their turn depend upon the Sovereign
Pontiff. The necessity of combining to support
their supreme head was felt so keenly that in spite of
the opposition of the French and Spanish bishops a
great number of the Fathers at the Council of Trent
followed the Jesuit Lainez, who declared, in speaking
of episcopal jurisdiction that "to say that all bishops
have received certain powers from Jesus Christ was
to deprive the Pope of his privileges as Vicar of
Christ and Head of the Church," and who ventured
to maintain as probable that " the apostles were
established by Saint Peter in the sense that they had
received their jurisdiction from him."1
Protestants admit no rule of faith but Scripture,
but they dispute as to what books compose it and
they think fit to interpret it freely : did not Luther
call the Epistle of Saint James " an epistle of
straw"? The Council of Trent repelled all dis
crimination between the Sacred Books and drew up
an authentic list of them ; anathema falls on those
who reject either part or all of them, and also on
those who interpret them " contrarily to the sense
which has been held and is held by Holy Church, or
even to the unanimous opinion of the Fathers." No
one was to publish a commentary upon them without
the necessary preliminary approval of the ecclesiastical
Scripture, however, is not the only source of truth ;
1 Pallavicini, bk. xviii. chap. xv.
2 Sess. iv. Decreium de canonicis scripturis.
the Council proclaimed the authority of tradition ;
not, it is hardly necessary to say, of every ecclesiastical
tradition, but of what are called the Apostolical
traditions concerning faith and morals. Now the
Church is still the guarantee and interpreter of
It is the Church's right and duty to maintain the
integrity of faith in the world, and consequently not
only to warn, but also to correct and punish those
who turn aside from sound doctrine. Whence those
two great institutions which were destined to sustain
so many attacks : the Roman Inquisition and the
Index ?
Historically, the Inquisition may be traced back as
far as the thirteenth century, but it was not until
1542 that Pope Paul III., by the bull Licit ab initio
gave it the form and extent which made it a supreme
tribunal for the whole Church ; it can reach cardinals
and bishops as well as plain laymen. Paul III.
placed at its head Cardinal Caraffa, who proved
pitiless. He began by renting a house in which he
installed surgeons and provided chains and instru
ments of torture. He then proclaimed these four
fundamental principles : there must be no delay in
matters of faith ; no consideration for princes or pre
lates ; no clemency for anyone who seeks protection
from the secular power ; indefatigable activity in
seeking out traces of Calvinism everywhere. When
he became Pope Paul H, Caraffa pursued his
course with extreme severity and did not spare such
cardinals as Morone and Pole, who had spent their
lives in defence of the Church. Pius IV., Pius V.,
Sixtus V. were to complete the work begun by Paul
III. and to make the congregation of the Inquisition,
1 The same decree.
or the Holy Office, the highest authority of the
Roman Curia.
The Church has always condemned heretical books
and we know that from the earliest days of her history
she has delivered them over to the flames. The
discovery of printing, however, brought about a
remarkable change which rendered such methods
futile. In their eighteenth session the Fathers of
the Council of Trent commissioned certain of their
number to revise the rules relating to the prohibition
of bad books and to complete the list which the
Congregation of the Inquisition had drawn up some
years before (1559) by order of Paul IV. In 1564,
Pius IV. in the bull Dominici gregis promulgated the
list of the Index together with its general rules,
and added a clause rendering them obligatory all over
the world three months after their promulgation.
His successor Saint Pius V. formerly erected the
Congregation of the Index, which thus became a
permanent institution, which, together with that of
the Holy Office, was charged to watch over the
integrity of doctrine.
Such are the acts by which the Church, in a time
of universal licence, had the courage, or if you like
the audacity, to proclaim the rights of authority in
matters of belief and opinion. But she was well
aware that it did not suffice to define the truth, and
she knew especially that it was not enough to repress
the outward manifestations of error. How then was
she to reach the very source of that spirit of independ
ence and excessive individualism which produces, and
is afterwards increased by, free inquiry? By the
restoration and diffusion of religious life, the living
visible protest against that spirit.
It is a strange thing that the religious life was near
being suppressed almost to temporary extinction by
the government of the Church, which was influenced
by the presence of public opinion and the existence of
too many abuses. In 1538 a commission of cardinals
called together by Paul III. proposed to suppress
the monasteries or at least to put a temporary check
upon the recruiting of their forces by forbidding them
to receive novices. Once the old members were gone
an attempt would be made to form a new generation
in the spirit of the primitive rule. In 1540 Cardinal
Guiddaccioni, who was deputed to examine the first
constitutions of the Society of Jesus, was strongly
opposed to the order. " In the beginning," he said,
" all orders are full of fervour, but they relax in time
and when they grow old the harm they do to the
Church is greater than the good they did her at
Passing events dimmed the supernatural vision of
these cardinals. Thanks be to God, Paul III. was
not convinced ; better than his councillors he knew
where to find the antidote to the evils of the age.
The years which followed the outburst of the Protes
tant Reformation and its early progress witnessed
also the reformation of ancient orders, and the creation
of new orders, which were the true means of the
restoration of the Roman Church. This period of
preparation for Catholic restoration began with the
founding (in 1524) of the Clerks Regular or Theatins
by Saint Cajitanus Thienasus and the Franciscan
reform of the Capuchins in 1528, and ended with the
reform of the Carmelites which was carried out by
Saint Theresa in 1562. But the dominating feature
of this period was the rise and progress of the Society
of Jesus.
1 Quoted by Joly, Saint Ignace de Loyola, p. 150.
Now what is to be seen in all these reforms and
new foundations, if not the most decided protest
against that which was the very spirit of the century,
against the merely natural life, irresponsible life,
pagan life, and the pride of intellect ?
Look at the Capuchins as described by the Protes
tant Menzel, so pure, so energetic, so disinterested,
and of such austere life " who went on foot from one
place to another ; who were at home in the lowliest
cottage ; who, inasmuch as they renounced all the
pleasures and conveniences of earthly life, bore wit
ness among the poor to the truth of the Gospel
promise that theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The
doctrine that the Christian should crucify the flesh
and look forward only to the celestial land because
he is a stranger and pilgrim on earth, seems much
more convincing in the mouth of a bearded monk
with bare feet who sleeps upon a plank and wears
nothing save his habitnot even a shirt."
Saint Theresa and Saint John of the Cross, like
Matteo Bassi, the founder of the Capuchins, knew
well that it was precisely this teaching which had to
be restored.
The primitive Carmelite rule is but a short summary
of the great monastical precepts concerning poverty,
chastity, and obedience.1
It offers them solitude and silence for their guides
and adds these three directions, which constitute the
distinctive character of the order :
1. That the religious remain in their cells or near
them, meditating day and night upon the law of God,
and watching in prayer, so long as they are not em
ployed in other lawful occupations ; so much for prayer.
1 Histoire de Ste Therese d'apres les Bollandisles, etc., by a Carmelite
Nun, ed. 1882, vol. i. p. 345 sqq.
2. From the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy
Cross until Easter Sunday the religious shall fast
every week-day, except when sickness or other lawful
cause offers good reason for not fasting, for necessity
has no law. They shall never eat flesh meat, except
as a remedy for some sickness or weakness ; so much
for penance.
3. That the religious work with their hands ; that
their labour be as unceasing as their prayer. " Work
in silence," says the rule, " this way is good, follow
in it " ; so much for labour.
The rule ends with these words : " If anyone do
more, God will reward him for it when He comes to
judge the world. Nevertheless, use discretion, which
is the great rule of virtue."
If anyone do more God will reward him for it.
Saint Theresa, authorised by the indult of Pope
Pius IV. in 1562, took advantage of this supreme
counsel not only to restore all the primitive observ
ances, but to increase the rigour of poverty, seclusion,
and mortification.1
Everyone knows how she herself practised these
religious virtues : " It seems to me that I could not
endure life without trials and there is nothing I
implore of God with greater ardour. How often do
I cry from the bottom of my heart, ' Lord, either to
die or suffer is the only thing I ask of Thee ! ' "
Are we not far enough from the ideal of life, even
the best among the humanists ? I do not speak of
Luther's invectives against the virtues of the religious
state. Would it not seem ridiculous to ask which of
the two was the better example of the Christian
spiritthe monk married to a nun or the virgin of
Avila ?
1 Histoire de Ste Therese (Tapirs les Bollandistes, etc., p. 350.
Though outwardly different the Society of Saint
Ignatius compassed the same end. What was it that
gave such remarkable originality to the conception
which resulted in the organisation of the Society of
Jesus if not that particular kind of asceticism which
associates a most active life in the world with absolute
sacrifice, with utter renunciation of personality, of
self-will, and of individual intellect ? Jesuits are in
deed recommended to mortify the flesh, but there are
none of those obligatory practices which, when pro
longed, take up too much time or lessen the strength,
but, to make up for this, how severe is that interior
mortification which results from their custom of sup
pressing all human and personal interest, of refusing
every advantageous position in the Church, of con
stantly sacrificing the individual to the community,
and of practising that perfect obedience which is
required of all !
You know that Saint Ignatius says, in his famous
letter to the Portuguese Jesuits, that there is "no
exercise that better becometh the Society than ardour
in rendering obedience with all desirable perfection."1
Obey your superior, whoever he be, because he is
your superior. The holy Founder writes : " Since
one does not obey a superior because he is prudent,
good, endowed with admirable qualities, or blessed
with divine gifts, . . . there is no reason to render a
less perfect obedience to a superior because he is
wanting in judgment or of mediocre prudence ; for,
whoever he be, he represents Him whose wisdom is
infallible, and God will not fail to make up for the
deficiency in His minister."
One must obey not merely with an exterior
obedience ; that is but a semblance unworthy the
1 Bouix, Letlres de Saint Ignace de Loyola, French trans., p. 456.
name of virtue ; it is the interior submission that is
necessary ; the full and entire submission of our will
to the will that commands, nay, more, the adhesion
of our very intellect to the judgment of our superior."
And again Saint Ignatius says : " If intellectual obedi
ence be defective, then good-bye to perfect obedience
. . . good-bye to simplicity, to courage, to strength, in
a word, to all the vigour, to all the efficiency, all the
dignity of this great virtue. . . . He who wishes to
give himself up entirely to God must of necessity
deliver up not only his will but also his intellect, in
such wise that he have but one and the same mind
with his superiors as he has but one and the same
One must obey like the staff in the traveller's hand,
like the corpse which offers no resistance, perinde ac
baculus . . . perinde ac cadaver.
These words occur in the Constitutions of the
Society of Jesus ; and they are to be found in the
rules of other orders. You know whether they are
mere rhetoric or not, and there is no need for me to
tell you how they ought to be interpreted in order
that all the rights of conscience may be safeguarded.
Is it necessary to refute, before we continue with our
subject, that famous calumny which is still repeated
by a few simpletons and by many liars, to wit, that
the Superior of the Jesuits may command his subjects
to commit a mortal sin ? This calumny is based upon
a gross misconception. The text saysand so do all
the rules of religiousthat no infraction in itself of
the constitutions, rules, and orders, is a sin, and could
not be a mortal sin unless the order were given by
the Superior in the name of holy obedience, for then
there would be the formal violation of a vow : Visum
est nobis in Domino nullas constitutiones, declarationes,
vel ordinim uUam vivendi posse obligationem ad peccatum
mortale vel veniale inducere, nisi superior ea in
nomine Domini nostri Jem Christi vel in virtute
obediential jubeat.1
We may rest assured that there is no authority in
the Catholic Church that can command any person
to commit a mortal or even a venial sin in the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ ! It was not by the help
of so complete an absurdity that the Church restored
the principle of authority in a world of anarchy.2
The Catholic Church, as I have already said, re
plied by a new effort to the desire for holiness which
was evident in the souls of the purest after the un
happy disorders of the fifteenth century.
She first restored the true idea of justice, justifica
tion, and sanctity : this was pre-eminently the dog
matic work of the Council of Trent.
Bossuet explains Luther's opinions on justification
with that marvellous clearness of intellect and that
oratory with which he is so facile when dealing with
the most intricate theological problems.
"Justification," he says, "is the grace which re
1 ConstittUiones Soc. Jesu, pars. vi. cap. 5. " It hath seemed good
to us in the Lord that ... no constitutions, declarations, or any
rule of life, shall bind to either mortal or venial sin, unless the Superior
should enjoin the same in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, or in
virtue of Holy Obedience." The curious idiom obligatio ad peccatum
gave rise to the misconstruction. The meaning is not obligation to
commit sin, as some have wildly supposed, but obligation under pain
of sin. Saint Ignatius would hardly have combined the sense of the
former reading with the idea of Holy Obedience ! See The Month,
August 1905. Translator's Note.
2 In the letter on obedience quoted above Saint Ignatius repeats
Saint Bernard's saying that obedience is necessary " provided always
that the command of man be not opposed to the law of God : ubi
tamen Deo contraria non prascipit homo," p. 474.
mitting our sins, renders us at the same time agreeable
to God. It had been believed until then that that
which produces this effect must in reality come from
God, but must nevertheless be in us ; and that in
order to be justified, that is to be changed from a
sinner into a just man, one must possess justice in
one's self, in the same way that one must possess
knowledge and virtue to be learned and virtuous.
Luther, however, did not pursue so simple an idea.
He would have it that that which justifies us and
makes us agreeable in the eyes of God is nothing
within ourselves, but that we are justified because
God imputes the justice of Jesus Christ to us as
though it were our own, and because we can actually
appropriate it by faith." But by what faith ? By
that which consists in believing with certainty that
we are justified.1
And to have this certainty it is not necessary to be
assured of the sincerity of our repentance. Besides
all the works of man are evil ; it is impossible to be
certain that we do not commit several mortal sins in
performing those works which seem to be of the
greatest merit; the only thing is to believe we are
absolved and we are.
To this strange doctrine, the Council answered that
no one is justified in virtue of believing that he is
justified ; that the life of grace which unites the soul
to God does not consist in grace which is inadmissible
and unprogressive but that it is subject both to loss
and growth ; that justice increases by the accomplish
ment of God's commandments and those of the
Church, and by good works with the co-operation of
faith ; that no one can with certainty count upon
persevering to the end ; that even those who think
1 Histoire des Variations, bk. i. No. 7.
they stand should work out their salvation in fear and
trembling, by means of almsgiving, fasting, and purity.1
Thus was the function of individual effort restored
and a new impulse given to true sanctity.
How beautiful was that harvest of saints which
then sprang up in all parts of Christendom ! There is
not a nation that did not yield its share. There were,
however, two, which circumstances made to excel the
rest so far that they imprinted their own character
on the reformation which was at work within the
bosom of the Church. These were Italy and Spain.
In the next century France would give her tribute by
Saint Francis of Sales and Saint Vincent de Paul to
mention only the most illustrious ; and she would
have her two great mystical schools, that of the
Jesuits and that of the Oratory and Saint Sulpice.
In the sixteenth century, however, she gave way to
her two Romanesque sisters : Italy with her amiable
and precise mysticism, her genius for government,
and her devotion to the Apostolic See ; and Spain
with her chivalrous enthusiasm, her austerity, and
gravity, and her passionate desire to fight the infidel
or the heretic ; that Spain which was still under the
spell of recent traditions ; which fired with ardour and
dreamed of new crusades when veterans told of the
taking of Grenada.
Italian mysticism and Italian sanctity. Ah ! were
they not most sweetly expressed in the sympathetic
and winning personality of Saint Philip Neri, founder
of the Oratory, who has been so justly praised by a
famous Protestant historian, Leopold von Ranke ? 2
The two essential characteristics of the asceticism of
1 Sess. iv. Decretum de justificatione.
1 La Papauti pendant les XVI' et XVII' siecles, vol. ii. p. 337.
(French trans.)
Saint Philip and of his school are a tender charity
and a mortification which is essentially spiritual. In
the Saint's whole life one finds hardly two or three
instances of severity and even these are singularly
temperate. Instead, what amiable devices he used
to gain sinners ! How sweetly and graciously he
showed his love for his neighbour ! Though very
severe for himself he was indulgent for others ; he
very rarely enjoined corporal mortification, but he had
no pity for false pride, presumption, and vain-glory,
and there was no artifice, however eccentric and
strange, which he hesitated to employ to overcome
these failings in himself and others. "The whole
importance of Christian life," he used to say, " con
sists in the mortification of rationalism, that is, of
intellectual presumption." " Sometimes," writes one
of his disciples, " when he wished to teach us that it
is our duty to mortify pride of thought he would
touch our forehead and say : The holiness of man is
there within the space of three fingers. . . . Sometimes
when his followers were around him he would teach
them in these words : My children, humble your
minds, submit your intellects" 1
Can it not be said of him also that he had found
the specific remedies for that egoism, that worship of
self which owed so much of its development to the
Renaissance and the Reformation ?
The warlike soul of Spain was active in Saint
Ignatius and Saint Theresa.
Instinctively a soldier, it was in that character that
Saint Ignatius of Loyola began his career ; 2 and from
1 Cardinal Capecelatro, Vri de saint Philippe Neri, translated by
Father Bazin. Paris, 1899* See in the 1st vol. chap, entitled
L'ecole ascetique de saint Philippe.
2 The first Lives of Saint Ignatius, those of Gonzalez, Ribadeneira,
his youth upward he gave evidence of his ardent
courage and grandeur of soul. " What chivalrous
heroism shone in him during the years that followed
his conversion ! What valour in the practice of those
austerities in which he indulged like a knight and a
soldier, militari adhuc spiritu, writes one of his bio
graphers, Polanco, who had known him." In order,
adds Gonzalez, another of his historians, that he might,
like the saints, do great deeds for the glory of God.
Is not this the hall mark of his spirituality and one
of the most original notes struck in his Spiritual
Exercises ? You remember those two famous medi
tations, the Reign of Jesus Christ and the Two
Standards. He looks upon life as a battlefield ; and
upon the world as divided into two camps, that of
Jerusalem under the banner of Jesus and that of
Babylon under the flag of Lucifer ; he looks upon
Jesus as a kinga captain-general as the Spanish
text sayswho calls His soldiers to conquer a king
dom, to share His glory, but to share also His labours,
His sufferings, and His life.
The spiritual method of Saint Ignatius only uses
contemplation to lead to action : the Exercises are
truly an organisation of the spiritual warfare, of the
crusade against evil in self and one's surroundings.
I recognise the same inspiration in Saint Theresa,
whose mystical flights seem at first sight to differ so
much from those of Saint Ignatius. Truly she did
not wish to thrust her Carmelites into the battle ;
Polanco, give us this impression of the military and chivalrous
character of Saint Ignatius. The Vie de saint Ignace by M. Joly in
the collection of saints published by Lecoffre is interesting to read.
There is a very recent and complete work upon the Society of Jesus
in the time of Saint Ignatius by Father Antonio Astrain. Historia
de la compania de Jesus en la assistencia de Espana, vol. i. 5. Ignacio
de Loyola (1540-1556).
that was the duty of priests, preachers, and missionaries,
but she saw in them the auxiliaries of those who
fought, and influenced by this idea she added some
thing to the old spirit of Carmel.
The ancient Carmelite spirit was solitude, silence,
contemplation, labour, and fasting. Under the
direction of Saint Theresa a new element, apostolic
zeal, transformed the basis of this life of prayers and
recollection, and directed all the forces of the new
Carmel to the conquest of souls.
It was the spirit of her own vocation. At the
beginning of the Way of Perfection she says : " Hav
ing learned of the troubles in France and the ravages
wrought there by the heretics and how that unhappy
sect is growing stronger day by day, I was as deeply
moved as if it were my fault and I wept in the
presence of God and prayed Him to remedy so great
an evil. It seemed to me that I would have given
my life a thousand times over to save a single one of
the great numbers of souls who were being lost in
that kingdom."
What she asked of her daughters was prayer and
mortification to obtain the conversion of heretics and
help those who laboured to that end. " Oh, my
sisters in Jesus Christ," she writes, "help me then
to pray for so many sinners who are losing their
souls. It is for this purpose that the Lord has
brought you together here. This is your vocation ;
this is your duty. Thither should your desires lead
you. For this cause should your tears flow and your
prayers be multiplied . . . What ! the world is on
fire. The unhappy heretics wish, as it were, to
condemn our Lord a second time, in that they raise
up a thousand false witnesses against Him, and strive
to overthrow His church. And we are losing time !
. . . Yes, when I consider these great evils, this fire
which human forces cannot extinguish and which
grows greater every day, it seems to me that the
Church of God needs an army of the elect, an army
that is ready to die but will never suffer defeat.
" Let us help the King's servants. I beg of you
strive to become such that you may obtain great
graces from God for His defenders. If we, by our
prayers, can contribute to their victory, we also, in
the depths of our solitude, shall have fought for the
divine cause." '
So this Catholic mysticism urged its expounders
and their disciples on to action, to good works, and
apostolic zeal. " Pray as if God had to do every
thing," said Saint Ignatius, " and act as if you had
to do everything."
How perfectly, too, does it respond to the spon
taneous soaring of the soul to God ! Saint Philip
Neri seemed to be lifted out of himself: " Depart
from me, O Lord, depart from me ; for mortal weak
ness cannot bear so great and joyful a burden. Be
hold I die if Thou comest not to mine aid ! " Who
will give voice to the outpouring of a Saint Theresa
or a Saint John of the Cross ? The latter, entirely
absorbed in God, had to do violence to himself in
order to converse of temporal affairs, and sometimes
he was unable to do so when he had just been pray
ing. On such occasions he would exclaim, " Let
us take to flight, let us go on high. What are we
doing here, my dear brothers ? Let us go to eternal
life ! " And in Italy Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi
reproduced the aspirations, the virtues, the sufferings,
and the ecstasies of Saint Theresa. " I did not
know," she said, " whether I was alive or dead,
Vie de Sainte Thdrese, quoted above, vol. i. pp. 344-348.
without my body, or within. . . ." " Our souls
ought to be turtle-doves, to lament without ceasing
the blindness of so many souls." How entire in selfabandonment
is that generous gift of self to Jesus
Christ with which the fourth week of the Exercises
finishes. "Accept, O Lord, the offering of my
whole being. Accept my memory, my understand
ing, and my will. To Thee I owe all I have and all
I am, to Thee I render all. I give up all for Thy
use and to Thy good pleasure for ever. Give me
Thy love, Thy Grace alone, and I shall be rich
enough ; I ask for nothing more."
This is ardent mysticism indeed, but it is within
bounds nevertheless and has nothing in common
with the illuminism of Protestant sects. What was
Saint Theresa's purpose in the Way of Perfection
and the Castle of the Soul, if not to teach her religious
the path of prayer and to preserve them from all
illusion ? What especially are the Exercises of
Saint Ignatius, if not a strict method, or if you wish,
a code of spiritual life ? Listen to the description
that Saint Ignatius himself gives of them : " As
walking, marching, and running are bodily exercises,
so spiritual exercises consist of the different ways of
preparing the soul to rid it of all unruly affections
and when it is quit of them to seek and find the
will of God in the ordering of one's life with a view
to salvation.1
Finally and above all, this mysticism, even under
its most personal aspect, always remains subject to
the control of the Church's authority. Read the
first of the famous rules of Saint Ignatius, ad sentiendum
vere cum Ecclesia : " We must always hold
1 The first note or introduction placed at the head of the Exercises.
Ed. by Father Roothaan, 1841, p. 1.
ourselves ready to obey, with all our hearts and all
our minds, putting aside all individual opinion, the
true spouse of Jesus Christ, our holy Mother, our
infallible and orthodox Mistress, the Catholic Church,
who exerts her authority over us by the hierarchy of
her pastors " ; and the tenth rule : " We must esteem
the decretals, statutes, traditions, ordinances, rites, and
customs of our fathers in the faith or of our superiors " ;
the eleventh : " We should reverence the teaching
of the fathers and theologians " ; and the thirteenth :
" In order to be of one mind and one soul with the
Church of Christ we must have confidence in her and
mistrust ourselves so far as to admit that what seems
to us true is false if she has defined it so ; for we must
believe unhesitatingly that the spirit of our Lord
Jesus Christ is the spirit of His Spouse, and that
God who once gave us His Commandments is the
same God who inspires and governs the Church
Such is the Catholic spirit that preserves the soul
from error in its perilous ascent to God.
God wishes men to be active : He demands their
personal efforts to be placed at His service. He does
not reform those institutions which are dearest to
Him, such as His Church, either by miracle or even
by a kind of inherent virtue which acts spontaneously
and surely at the necessary moment. In the Catholic
Church, as elsewhere, reforms are initially the work
of a few individuals who desire them passionately
and end by enlisting in their favour public opinion
and the regular organisation of the hierarchy. Things
happened thus in the sixteenth century and this is
why it was said with truth that the Council of Trent
JEd. Roothaan, pp. 224-231.
was itself the victory of the Catholic reforming
When the elements of that reform were collected,
when the instruments were ready, the Council came
to accomplish the dogmatic and disciplinary work
which was demanded by all and to draw up the
uniform programme that was to be carried out every
On 7th January 1564, the day fixed for the second
session of the Council, the secretary Massarelli, in
the name of the legates, read a solemn exhortation,
which had, no doubt, been drawn up by the great
Cardinal Pole : it was at the same time the Church's
confiteor and her promise to repair the evil that
had been wrought. It ran as follows :" If the pro
gress of heresy, the corruption of morals, and the
internal dissensions of Christendom are to be largely
attributed to the clergy, it is their duty to repair the
ills which they have caused, by their return to virtue
and by the example of mildness and charity. In order
to fulfil their noble mission, the bishops, especially,
must rise above all passions of the heart as well as all
prejudice of mind and must most carefully rid them
selves of all personal consideration and all national
influence. . . ." The speaker warned the Fathers of
the terrible obstacles they would encounter in their
In the year 1537 Pope Paul III. had appointed a
great committee of reform which comprised the elect
of the Sacred College. The report of the Commission
which was printed at Rome in 1538 was signed by
Contarini, Caraffa, Pole, Sadolet, Giberti, Cortese, and
1 Von Hubner, Sixte Quint (French translation), Introduction,
vol. i. p. 65.
2 Labbe, Conciles, vol. xiv. col. 734.
Aleandre. It energetically pointed out the current
abuses and even attributed them to the pontifical
court1 " Flattery," it said, " has established in the
Roman Curia the doctrines which reign therein, to
wit that the Pope is the owner of all dignities, that
he can sell them, that the acts of the Sovereign
Pontiff are not subject to the laws of the Church."
" It is idolatrous" adds Contarini, " to pretend that
the Pope has no rule but his own will to establish or
abolish positive right. . . . The law of Christ is a law of
The cardinals declared that it was absolutely
forbidden to derive any profit whatever from the
exercise of the power of the keys ; that the Church
cannot exist except by the maintenance of the law ;
that consequently most of the dispensations granted
in the Roman Court would have to be abolished ;
that the pensions, reserves, and expectancies would
have to be suppressed ; that the conferring of several
benefices upon one person would have to be for
bidden ; that residence was to be enforced upon
bishops whose authority was not to be hindered ;
that clergy must be chosen and trained with greater
care ; and finally, that a more accurate knowledge of
doctrine, and of the means of conforming their lives
thereto, was to be assured to the faithful by preaching
and instruction.2
Such, in effect, were the points upon which the
reform of the Church was to return: such was,
besides the definition of dogma against Protestants,
1 Consilium delectorum cardinalium et aliorum prcelatorum de
emendanda Ecclesia. The original text is reproduced in Mansi,
Conciles, Suppl. vol. v. col. 537.
2 Contarini enlarges on this view in several letters addressed to
Paul III. Le Plat, Monumenta ad Hist. Cone. Trid. vol. ii. p. 905.
the work of the Council of Trent. The Bishop of
Nazianzus summarised it in these terms before the
assembled Fathers on 4th December 1563, the twentyfifth
and last day of the Council's sitting. " Nations
and inhabitants of the earth, celebrate this day on
which the temple of the Lord is re-established upon
its foundations, on which the vessel of the Church,
having been tossed by the longest and wildest storms,
regains the harbour. . . . To explain the Catholic Faith,
to separate it from error, to re-establish ecclesiastical
discipline, to protect it from those laxities which have
been the cause or the pretext of our misfortunes, such
has been the twofold end that we have striven to
attain." He then recapitulated all the decrees which
the Fathers had passed concerning faith and morals ;
Holy Scriptures, Original Sin, Justification, the Sacra
ments, the Sacrifice of the Mass, Communion under
both kinds, Baptism of Infants, Purgatory, the Cult
of the Saints, Indulgencesa splendid collection of
the truths that had been explained and defined.
" Yes," continued the speaker, " you have gloriously
accomplished your task. Henceforth ambition will
no more supplant virtue in the sacred ministry. The
Word of the Lord will be more often and more care
fully explained. The bishops will remain with their
flocks. Henceforth none of those privileges with
which vice or error cloaked themselves ; no more
needy or idle priests. Holy things will no longer
be bartered, for the scandalous traffic of professional
collectors is at an end. Those who have been trained
from childhood for the Lord's ministry will be taught
to pay Him a pure and worthy worship. The
provincial synods are re-established, strict rules are
drawn up for the presentation of cures and benefices ;
the transference of the Church's property as an inTHE
heritance is forbidden ; the power of excommunication
is more strictly limited ; a strong curb is placed upon
the covetousness, licence, and luxury of all, both
clergy and laymen ; wise warnings are given to the
kings and potentates of the earth ; do not all these
things prove what great and holy things you have
accomplished ? " 1
No one will dare to affirm that the lines of this
pleasing picture are not a little exaggerated. It
would take more than sixty years for the decretals of
Trent to permeate throughout Catholicism. Never
theless great results were obtained almost immedi
ately, and sure foundations were laid for future
It was the court of Rome that was the first to be
reformedand that a reform lasting for centuries.
The excellent choice of cardinals made by Paul III.
was the starting-point of this great work. All the
leaders of the orthodox reforming party had been intro
duced into the Sacred College : Contarini, in whom,
according to Pallavicini, the historian of the Council of
Trent, were united prudence, diplomatic ability, learn
ing, zeal, exemplary conduct, courage, and sincerity
towards the most powerfulwhether emperor or
pope; Giovanni-Pietro Caraffa; Sadolet, Bishop of
Carpentras ; Pole, in refuge from England ; Giberti,
who, after having for a long time taken part in the
management of general affairs, administered his diocese
of Verona in an exemplary manner ; Morone, Bishop
1 Labbe, Conciles, vol. xiv. col. 1659, quoted in Baguenault de
Puchesse, op cit. pp. 248-250.
2 The transformation that took place in the Roman Church
during and after the Council of Trent has been admirably set forth
by Ranke in his Histoire de la Papavti pendant les XVI* et XVII*
siccles, and by von Hubner in the introduction to his Sixte-Quint.
of Modena; Aleandre, whom the spectacle of the
Church's misfortunes had led to the highest and
purest conception of his ecclesiastical duties ; Marcellus
Cervini, whose election to the sovereign pontifi
cate under the name of Marcellus II. in 1555 was
to be hailed with joy by all those who desired the
Church's reformation. Nearly all these were members
of that oratory of divine love which revived the desire
for interior life in the best representatives of the
Italian clergy.
The happy selection of the members of the Sacred
College led to the election of good popes. That of
Marcellus II. had shown what direction the Church
was taking: that of Giovanni-Pietro Caraffa, Paul IV.,
was not less significant. " If a party existed," says the
historian Ranke, " that had for its aim the restoration
of Catholicism in all its rigour, it was not merely a
member, but the actual founder and leader of that
party who ascended the pontifical throne in Paul IV." 1
" We promise and vow," he said in his Bull of Acces
sion, " to take scrupulous care that universal reform,
and that of the court of Rome, be carried out." In
his honour a medal was struck, bearing a representa
tion of Christ turning the money-lenders out of the
The example of Saint Pius V. especially produced
an extraordinary effect. ... As Pope he lived with
all the austerity of a monk, observed all the
fasts without interruption, and allowed himself no
garment of finer material. . . . The burden of the
Papacy would have been insupportable to him without
the grace of prayer. Until his death he preserved
the happiness of fervent devotion, the only happiness
1 See Hisloire de Scdnl Pie V., by M. de Falloux. Paris, 1884.
2 vols.
he could enjoy. The people were led to enthusiasm
at the sight of this holy pontiff walking in procession,
his head and feet bare, his face lighted up with an
ineffable expression of sincere and profound piety . . .
they thought there had never been so pious a pope,
and they loved to relate how his mere glance had
converted Protestants.1
The Jesuits and Theatins who surrounded Gregory
XIII. continually quoted Pius V. as a model, and
thus succeeded in directing the Pontiff's ambition
into wholly religious channels. Moreover, as Tiepolo
justly remarked in 1576 : " Nothing helped the Church
so much as that series of irreproachable popes. All
those who succeeded them became more worthy or
at least felt that it was necessary to appear so. The
cardinals and prelates zealously attended Mass, and
carefully sought to avoid all scandal in the mainten
ance of their households. The whole city sought to
throw off the bad repute into which it had fallen, and
became more Christian in morals and manners. In
deed it became possible to say that in religious matters
Rome went as near perfection as the limitations of
human nature would allow."2
Leopold von Ranke, in passing judgment on the
popes of the second half of the sixteenth century,
concludes in these words :
" In the preceding centuries certain popes had been
able to hold themselves superior to all laws and to
exploit the administration of their supreme dignity
for the sake of their worldly pleasure ; but the spirit
of the age would not allow such an abuse. They
were obliged to reform their personal conduct that
1 Histoire de la Papaute pendant les XVI* et XVII" siccles. French
trans., vol. ii. p. 59.
2 Ranke, op. cit. vol. ii. p. 332.
it might harmonise with the sanctity of the papal
office ; the fulfilment of their mission was to become
the only care of those who were charged with it, and
it was to be impossible to obtain it or keep it unless
their mode of life was consistent with the high con
ception Christianity had formed of it."
Among all the work that had occupied the atten
tion of the Council of Trent one of the most important
was the reform of the episcopate. To this end the
Council had taken the wisest steps, the effect of
which received remarkable testimony in the splendid
example of Saint Charles Borromeus at Milan.
The reform of all orders of the clergy was assured
by the institution of seminaries and of sacerdotal con
gregations the aim of which was to raise the secular
clergy by means of religious rule and the spirit of
poverty. In 1524 Clement VII. had authorised the
constitution of the Clerks Regular or Theatins founded
by Saint Cajetanus Thieneeus and Giovanni-Pietro
CarafFa, Bishop of Theatus. Binding themselves to
live according to rule and in strict poverty, they strove
to restore worship and ceremonial, to encourage the
frequenting of the Sacraments, to reform preaching,
to visit the sick, and to help prisoners, in a word to
fulfil as perfectly as possible the duties of the sacred
ministry.1 Such again, in the latter part of the cen
tury, was the spirit of the Oratory which Saint Philip
definitely founded in 1575, and such, in the following
century, was the object of the great secular congrega
tions which were founded in France by the Pere de
1 Father Dumortier, in his Vie de Saint Gaetan de Thiem, Paris,
1882, shows very clearly how Saint Cajetanus was the patriarch of
the clerks regular and the true initiator of reform among the
secular clergy. Cf. the brilliant Vie de Saint Gaetan written by M.
de Maulde in the Collection of Saints.
Berulle, Saint Vincent of Paul, by M. Olier:the
Oratory, Saint-Lazare, Saint Sulpice.
Thus all classes of society were reached by good
works, preaching, and instruction, and the way was
prepared for the revival of the Christian spirit among
the faithful. The Brothers of Mercy or of Saint John
of God, the Fathers of the Bona Mors or Camilliens
devoted themselves to the care of the sick ; the
Barnabites set themselves to preach, to give missions,
and to instruct; the Escolapians of Saint Joseph
Calazance, the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, of
Ccesar de Bus, the Ursulines of Saint Angela Merici
undertook the education and instruction of boys and
girls. Especially widespread and active was the
work of the colleges founded by the Society of Jesus !
Even Protestants placed their children in the hands
of masters who knew how to cultivate not only the
intelligence but the hearts and the wills of their pupils.
We need not be surprised that the Church again
gathered around her the intellectual and moral forces
of Catholic countries and reinstated her empire over
minds. I am not speaking of the great ecclesiastical,
historical, or theological works of a Baronius or a
Bellarmin. No, what I especially wish to remark
upon is the so complete change of inspiration to be
noticed among literary men and artists. What a
gulf between Ariosto who wrote his Orlando Furioso
under Leo X. and Tasso who gave his La Gerusalemma
Liberata to the contemporaries of Gregory XIII. ! In
the one is found poetry which has no sympathy with
the Church ; in the other its noblest inspirations are
sought in the Church to which it submits with love
and freshly enkindled faith.1
1 See Leopold de Ranke (vol. ii. p. 322 sqq.) on this recovery of
intellectual strength by the Church.
What a vast field was traversed between the worldly
music which invaded the Church in the early six
teenth century and that of Palestrina : " Lord, enlighten
me ! " one reads, written in his handwriting on the
manuscript of the Mass of Pope Marcellus II.
Did not Louis, Augustus, Annibale Carracci,
Dome'nichino, Guido Reni, Guercino, seek first and
foremost to reproduce the ideal of the God-made-man
and that of the highest sanctity to be reached by
man ? What religious fervour in their paintings and
consequently in their genius !
Yes indeed the Catholic Church has once more
become the noble inspirer of great works and noble
Behold then how she arises anew this Church re
generated, like a mighty conqueror ! As in the
Middle Ages and before, may vast schemes of
victorious propaganda descend from the seven hills
of Rome. " An immense scene," says Ranke, " opens
up before our eyes." Indeed, it is the whole of
Protestant Europe that has to be regained. From
Vienna, Cologne, and Ingolstadt the Jesuits fall upon
Germany as from three fortresses. In fifteen years,
from 1551 to 1566, they occupy Austria, Moravia,
Bohemia, Bavaria, Tyrol, Franconia, Swabia, the
Rhenish provinces ; by their influence over princes,
by confessions, by preaching, by colleges and uni
versities they reinstate Catholic doctrine and
practices once more in the place of honour. " Such
a religious movement is without parallel in the history
of the world."
In the Netherlands and in France Catholicism is
asserting its rights ; Poland, Sweden, England, and
Switzerland are being penetrated by the Jesuits;
other missionaries are labouring for the same cause ;
the dominion of Protestantism is receding every
day ; were it not for the rivalry of the two houses of
France and Austria, Rome would undoubtedly be
triumphant almost everywhere.
At the same time, in the New World, following in
the steps of soldiers, explorers, adventurers, Spaniards,
Portuguese, and French, march the preachers of the
gospel Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, in the
Antilles, Mexico, Central America, Peru, Chili,
Paraguay, and Brazilmissionaries are also found
in India, Japan, and China. It was in 1542 that
Saint Francis Xavier, the greatest missionary of all,
landed at Goa; the Capuchins are evangelising the
East Coast of Africa whilst others are penetrating into
the Congo.
" Rome," may we cry with Bossuet in his magnifi
cent sermon on unity" Rome is not exhausted in
her old age and her voice has not grown feeble ; day
and night she never ceases to call to the most distant
peoples to invite them to the banquet where all are
made one. And behold at the sound of this maternal
voice the far ends of the East are moved, and seem to
wish to give birth to a new Christendom to repair the
ravages wrought by the late heresies. It is the
destiny of the Church. Movebo candelabrum tuum, ' I
will move thy candlestick,' said Jesus Christ to the
Church at Ephesus ; * I will take away your faith, I
will move it.' He does not put out the light but he
carries it elsewhereto happier climes. Woe, woe
again to those who lose it ; but light goes on its way
and the sun achieves its course."
On the use of force by the Catholic Church against
P?-otestants The Inquisition in Italy and in
Spain Religious wars Protestant intoler
In placing before you, as I did a week ago, the great
reformation that took place within the Catholic
Church in the sixteenth century I was quite at my
ease. Both you and I were able to indulge in senti
ments of pure and tranquil satisfaction as well as of
unbounded admiration, for it was but a question of
moral life, of supernatural ideas and efforts, and of
sanctity. The subject that I touch upon to-day is
more delicate and more painful. The Catholic Church
is a respecter of conscience and of liberty as we were
lately reminded in clear and beautiful language from
the pulpit of Notre Dame ; with Saint Bernard, the
Fathers, and other theologians she believes and pro
fesses that "faith is a work of persuasion, not of
force, fides suadenda est, non imponenda." She has,
and she loudly proclaims that she has, a " horror of
blood." Nevertheless when confronted by heresy
she does not content herself with persuasion ; argu
ments of an intellectual and moral order appear to
her insufficient and she has recourse to force, to
corporal punishment, to torture. She creates
1 For the bibliography of this chapter see that of chapters iv. and
v. ; also the works indicated at the foot of the pages of the present
chapter ; see also De Meaux, La Riforme et la politique frangaise en
Europe. Paris, 1889. 2 vols, in 8vo.
tribunals like those of the Inquisition, she calls
the laws of State to her aid, if necessary she en
courages a crusade, or a religious war and all her
" horror of blood " practically culminates into urging
the secular power to shed it, which proceeding is
almost more odious for it is less frank than
shedding it herself. Especially did she act thus in
the sixteenth century with regard to Protestants.
Not content to reform morally, to preach by
example, to convert people by eloquent and holy
missionaries, she lit in Italy, in the Low Countries,
and above all in Spain the funeral piles of the In
quisition. In France under Francis I. and Henry II.,
in England under Mary Tudor, she tortured the
heretics, whilst both in France and Germany during
the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of
the seventeenth century if she did not actually begin,
at anyrate she encouraged and actively aided the
religious wars. No one will deny that we have
here a great scandal to our contemporaries excepting
to a certain class still having few adherents which
theoretically but theory often gives way before
factsaffects a certain taste for violence and blood
Mgr. d'Hulst remarked on this fact in his Carime
of 1895 : "The intervention of the secular power in
the cause of heresy has left memories which haunt
the imagination of our contemporaries like a night
mare. Many men of divers opinions find in this the
great scandal of ecclesiastical history. Our deadly
enemies find herein matter for furious assaults, whilst
our kindly adversaries here encounter the stumblingblock
which prevents their return to us. Indeed,
even among our friends and our brothers we find
those who dare not look this problem in the face.
They ask permission from the Church to ignore or
even to deny all those acts and institutions in the
past which have made orthodoxy compulsory. And
when the Church refuses this right, when she con
demns the thesis of absolute liberalism, when she
defends, if not in its detailed application at anyrate
in principle, a legislation belonging to the great
centuries of faith, then a dread fear seizes them and
leaves them with halting faith or saddened by the
sight of ironical or triumphant impiety." 1
Whence comes in our own times this almost in
vincible repugnance to use coercion in religious
matters ? It is not a question I can answer now. I
am dealing, not with psychology, but with con
temporary history. For more than a century we
have lived in a world where ideas are constantly
hustling and fighting and in which every party has
had its turn of power ; our enemies have turned
against us those principles which formerly were
brought to bear against themselves. Moreover, a
gentler spirit prevails, the rights of humanity are
better respected, and individualism even in religion
has progressed. In a word the present state of
things is looked upon as normal and indeed as
desirable ; tolerance has become a dogma. The
Church no longer thinks of using its ancient rights
and the State, supposing it returned to Catholicism,
would beware of helping her even if asked. The
State would have no right to comply in a matter like
this, for the duty of the State is measured by social
usefulness and its interference to enforce a dogma or
an ecclesiastical discipline would be not only useless
but harmful to the public good.
Alas ! we should be happy indeed if it did not
1 Carcme of 1 895. L'Eglise et FEtat, p. 1 2.
interfere with us. When I speak of this spirit of
tolerance attained by our contemporaries, and which,
ten years ago, was looked upon as ideal, am I not
committing an anachronism ? Are we not having
a State doctrine imposed upon us both by teaching
and by force ?
This may help us to understand the spirit of
our forefathers in the sixteenth century. They at
least had the excuse of believing their doctrine
inspired by God and of imposing it in the name
of Divinity. To comprehend, let us, in the words
used recently by a distinguished historian, M. l'abbe"
Vacandarel, take to ourselves " the soul of an
ancestor." 1
A few analogies will render our task easier. I
shall borrow them from L'Eglise et VEtat, in which
Mgr. Hulst sets them forth with the bright light of
his fine intellect :
" Every society needs a doctrine ; brutal force can
never dislodge an idea. There is a moral element at
the base of every institution, whether political, legal,
or social. Property and family represent the chief
foundations of civilisation. The State has the right
and the duty to protect them ; it can only do so by
appropriating to itself the ideal conception which is
substantiated, so to speak, in these things which are
real and lifelike. To draw up a code the legislator
has had to choose between opposing theories : he has
declared in favour of individual and transferable pro
perty, thereby standing out against collective systems.
He has chosen for marriage between a single man
and a single woman, with an indissolubility of con
jugal union, which is absolute or at least relative,
1 Etudes de critique et cThistoire religieuse. Les Papes et la Saint-
Barthi lemy, p. 221.
thereby classing in the category of social heresies
polygamy, polyandry, so-called free love, or even
simple divorce with mutual consent. Philosophers
are not prevented from preferring a contrary doctrine,
but they may not practise it, and should they attempt
to do so would be boldly opposed. Moreover, the
State preserves national unity against internationalism.
It allows dreamers to desire any manner of racial
federation they may wish, but it obliges all citizens
to help forward the very opposite ideal by military
service. It is not sufficient to bear arms to be called
a soldier, they must be borne for one's country.
Disorderly soldiers merit only proscription or death.
Only twenty-five years ago some journalists were
condemned to transportation for life for some articles
they had written. They were State heretics. They
had incited the people to rebellion against the country.
When the State defends itself by such means it is
not tyrannical, it is merely fulfilling its mission and
ensuring the success of an idea which emanates from
the conscience of a whole nation.
" Well then, carry these principles into a society of
which all the members are Christian, a society where
religious belief encounters, if not absolute unanimity
which is not of this world, at anyrate the same moral
unanimity which, as we saw just now, inspires and up
holds our fundamental institutionsproperty, family,
and countiy. Would you refuse to allow the State
to lend the helping hand of power to uphold a social
truth which forms the base of national life ? Theoreti
cally speaking I do not see how you could do so ; I
go further, and I find in the behaviour of the modern
State an analogy which proves it And you must
know that this is the whole pretension of the Church
when she condemns absolute liberalism. She says to
the representatives of political power : No, it is not
true that the maintenance of material security exhausts
your obligations and your prerogatives. You cannot
even entirely fulfil this elementary function unless
you are guided by principles and by doctrines accepted
by all. And because the duty of all is to recognise
the whole and entire truth taught by God you would
but be usurping if you interfered so far as to limit it.
But you perform a just and good work by accepting
this truth which is ready there, by commanding the
respect of citizens, by not allowing it to be violated,
and also by abstaining from an impious propaganda
which will convert a people happily united in their
profession of faith into a people without faith and
without morals." 1
So much is our due. Has it always been amply
paid ? Have not human passions intervened to com
promise so just a principle ? Have not the repre
sentatives of the Church sometimes abused the great
power which they possessed ? Oh, certainly, I am
not upholding, neither have I any intention of
apologising for, all that was said, written, and done
in the name of militant Catholicism during the six
teenth century.
Without doubt "in this vast conspiracy against
truth" which Joseph de Maistre stigmatised, many
accusations brought against the Church were founded
only on misunderstanding, error, and falsehood ; these
it has been, and still is, the duty of the historian to
refute, but even were there more than there is it
would only resolve itself into a question of fact ; the
principle would always remain the same, and it is
this that matters.
Let us add that the Church which respects abso-
1 Lent, 1895. L'Eglise et rEtat, pp. 130-133.
lutely the rights of infidels, of Jews, and of pagans,
regards heretics as her children, rebellious children
over whom she has authority because they have been
baptised, in consequence of which fact it is her
strict duty to bring them back to her fold if she
Moreover, like the State opposed by what we have
just called social Iteresies the Church only desires
to suppress the exterior manifestations of incredulity
and of religious heresy.
Again, when she appealed to secular power to
fight with armed forces against the great heresies
such as the Albigensian heresy in the thirteenth, the
Hussites in the fifteenth, or Protestantism in the
sixteenth centuryshe did not only invoke the aid
of State in defence of the Church, but also in defence
of social order, its special mission. The Albigenses
threw the society of their time into absolute disorder ;
so did the Hussites ; as to the Protestants, they were
in open revolt against the government. If to-day
Catholics were to resort to arms to resist the enter
prises that the president of a council, subject, not to
a Church, but to a sect, undertakes against their
most precious liberties, do you think that this president
would hesitate an instant to let them be fired on by
order of the Minister for War ? If, when the Bretons
tried to defend their persecuted nuns, the local
senators and deputies had called for outside help,
and had made way for it, as Coligny and his followers
delivered Le Havre to the English in 1562, do you
think that the government of the Republic, however
liberal it may be, would have hesitated to punish
them ? Well then, we have no cause to be indignant
if in the midst of the sixteenth century the most
Christian king sometimes placed his arms at the
disposal of the Church to combat a heresy in the sup
pression of which it was so directly interested.
However, Protestants in general agreed with
Catholics on this subject. I know well that this is
a matter of surprise to many who, by dint of con
stantly hearing falsehood, imagine that the Catholic
Church has the monopoly of intolerance and of
recourse to violence to impose her doctrines. The
contrary truth has been proved a hundred times ;
however, let us once more demonstrate this to be the
case, for falsehood is constantly reappearing.
In 1529, nine years after he had consummated his
rebellion against the Church, Luther wrote : " If it is
in our power we must not tolerate opposing doctrines
in the same State, and to avoid greater evils, those
who do not believe should be obliged to attend
sermons, to hear the explanation of the command
ments, and to obey at least exteriorly." He added
that false teachers should be exiled.1
His lieutenant, the gentle Melanchthon, wished
that the civil power " should be armed with the sword
to punish the inventors of new opinions,"2 and described
the punishment of Michel Servet as "prima et memorabile
ad omnem posteritatem exemplum."3
Calvin comments on Deuteronomy, chap. xii. vers.
6-9 : " If thy brother, or thy son, or thy wife, or thy
friend whom thou lovest as thy own soul, would per
suade thee secretly, saying: Let us go, and serve
strange godsconsent not to him, hear him not,
neither let thy eye spare him to pity and conceal
him. But thou shalt presently put him to death.
1 De Wette, vol. iii. p. 347.
2 Corpus reformatorum, vol. vii. p. 523.
s Ibid., vol ix. p. 133.
Let thy hand be first upon him, and afterwards the
hands of all the people." Calvin drew this conclusion
from this text : " Thus, whoever holds that wrong is
done to heretics and blasphemers by punishing them
goes against the word of God ; it is God who speaks
here ; He wishes humanity to be placed in the back
ground when it is a question of fighting for His glory." 1
Theodore of Beza, Calvinist in Geneva, expressed
the same opinion. " If there be heresy," he wrote in
1554, " that is to say if a man be possessed with an
absolute contempt for God's word and ecclesiastical
discipline, what greater or more outrageous crime
could be found ? ... Be careful then, faithful
magistrates, to serve God well, who has placed the
sword in your hands for the honour of His Majesty ;
strike virtuously with this sword these monsters dis
guised as men."*
Theodore of Beza regarded the error of those who
demanded liberty of conscience as " something worse
than papistical tyranny." " Better have a tyrant really
cruel," said he, " than such licence which allows each
one to think as his imagination prompts him."
After the execution of Servet, Pastor Bullinger of
Zurich sent a message to Lelio Socin : " If you do
not yet see, Lelio, the right a magistrate has to
punish a heretic, you will undoubtedly do so one day.
Even Saint Augustine at first thought it iniquitous to
constrain a heretic by force and not by God's word
only. But afterwards he learned by sundry experi
ences to use violence beneficially. The Lutherans
also, at the beginning, did not believe in punishing
sectarians, but after the excesses of the Anabaptists
1 Quoted by Langlois, P Inquisition, p. 15.
2 De hcereticis a civili magistratu pniendis. Quoted by Buisson,
Sebastien Castellion, voL ii. p. 24.
they were forced to admit that it was wiser to have
recourse to the magistrate not only to suppress rebel
spirits but to prevent the loss of thousands by the
salutary example of punishment."1
Farel, one of the reformers of French Switzerland,
reasoned in a similar way. During Servet's trial he
congratulated Calvin for desiring " the death of one
who deserved ten thousand," and he exhorted him
not to be led away by kindness of heart to mitigate
the punishment, for fear that others might be tempted
by such mildness to preach new doctrines : " Sed te,
quceso, ita geras, ne temere quivio audeat nova inferre
in publicum dogmata."2
It is not only the doctors who express themselves
thus ; the same principle is proclaimed by official con
fessions of faith. The first confession of faith of the
Reformed Churches in France in 1559, on the morrow
of the atrocities inflicted on Henry II. on the Pro
testants declared that :
" God has put the sword into the hands of magis
trates to suppress sins committed not only against
the second Table of God's Commandments but also
against the first " 3 (namely those which relate to our
duty to God).
In the seventeenth century, after the revocation of
the Edict of Nantes, one of those who had protested
the most vigorously against this measureIurien
wrote these strong words : " Princes and magistrates
are God's anointed and His lieutenants on earth. . . .
But they would be strange lieutenants of God if they
were not bound by any duty which as magistrates
they had to perform for God. How can one imagine
1 Quoted by Buisson, Sibastien Castellion, vol. ii. p. 6.
2 Farel to Calvin, 8th September 1553. Opera Calvini, vol. xiv.
p. 613. 8 Article 39.
a Christian magistrate, the lieutenant of God, fulfill
ing his duty to keep order in the Society at the head
of which he is placed if he is not obliged to prevent
revolt against this God whose lieutenant he is so that
the people may not choose another God, or serve the
true God other than He wishes to be served " ? Conse
quently he invites princes to hinder, to banish heretics ;
he even allows that " the punishment of death should
be had recourse to when there exist sufficient proofs
of malignity, bad faith, the desire to trouble Church
and State, joined with audacity, impudence, and con
tempt of the law." 1
There is no doubt that all are agreed with Catholics
in saying that the State has the right to have recourse
to force when the political and social tendencies of
religious sects imperil it. Hence the ferocious sup
pression in the lifetime of Luther of the peasants and
then of the Anabaptists in Germany and in Switzer
land. The Protestant historian of Switzerland, Ruchat,
ingenuously gives the reason : " It was because the
Anabaptists were really seditious characters who
under the pretext of Christian liberty wished to shake
off" the yoke of all authority."
It has been justly remarked that, " rebellion against
the bishops, the pillage of the goods belonging to the
Church or to monasteries was a praiseworthy action
. . . but to apply the same doctrine to the authority
and to the wealth of nobles and magistrates was a
crime worthy of death." 2
Why then be indignant with kings of France and
1 Letter VI. See these quotations and their commentary in
Bossuet, sixth note on the Letters ofM, Jurieu, 3rd part, Nos. 82, 83,
and 84.
2 Rohrbacher, vol. xxiii. pp. 269-270 ; and Camut, La toUrance protestante,
p. 21.
the emperors of Germany who tried to make their
authority, and their own and their subjects' wealth
respected ? A fewbut very fewProtestant writers
see the analogy between the two cases : in speaking
of the measures used by the Emperor Ferdinand II.
against the preachers of Bohemia and of Austria an
author contemporary with the Thirty Years' War
says : " That one should wish to insist on liberty of
religion seems a strange and ridiculous thing to
sensible people. Why ask Catholic princes to grant
religious liberty in their dominions when there is not
one on the other side who will grant it ? Every gentle
man, has he but three peasants, makes them dance to
the tune of his fife. Is he a Lutheran, the peasants
must be the same ; he becomes a Calvinist, so must
the peasants, as has happened in the Palatinate, in
Hesse, and in other principalities where peasants have
been known to change their religion four times to
please their masters." 1
In fact, nearly all reason as does Calvin himself in
his dedication to Francis I. in his Institution chretienne.
He does not reproach the king for inflicting punish
ments on heretics ; but because he counts as heretics
those who are not and who on the contrary represent
true Christianity. As for heretics, they deserve death.
A conclusion that Calvin does not express but which
he would have drawn openly had he been the master :
it was the Catholics who were to be burned.2
1 Prouesses des Mansfeldiens. Quoted by Menzel, vol. vii. p. 86,
2 In this dedication, Calvin reminds Francis I. that it is his duty
to uphold God's glory on earth, that he ought to be the true minister
of God in the government of his kingdom, that the king who does
not reign for God's glory is not a sovereign but a brigand, etc.
Ed. Baumgartner, 1888, p. 6.
Perhaps what has gone before will help us to judge
more leniently and more justly the severities employed
by the Catholic Church against Protestants. The
Church strictly applied the doctrines I have put
forward above, and had recourse to traditional means
in use since the thirteenth centurynamely, the
Inquisition : punishment inflicted in the name of
law by the secular power and religious word.
The Inquisition was at work in Italy and in Spain ;
but, whilst in Italy it only reached isolated cases, in
Spain it suppressed with one bold stroke the rising
heresy. Here then we will watch it at work.1
On 27th April 1558, Vasquez de Molina, State
Secretary to Castille, and the Regent Jeanne ad
dressed to the Emperor Charles V., then retired to
the monastery of Yuste, an important despatch
setting forth the progress of the Protestant heresy,
especially at Valladolid, and the arrest of one of
the heads of the new doctrineDoctor Cazalla.2
1 Re Protestantism in Spain and its suppression, may be consalted
: De Uzes y Rio, Collection des reformateurs espagnols, Reformistas
antignos espaiioles ; A. de Castro, Hisloria de los protest antes
espagnoles. Cadiz, 1851; translated, revised, and completed by
Heinrich Herz (Protestant), Geschkhte der spanischen Protestanter,
Frankfurt-on-Main, 1866. Droin (Prot.) in French, Histoire de
la Reformation en Espagne. 2 vols, in J 2. Paris and Lausanne,
1880. Menendez Pelayo (Catholic), Historia de los Heterodoxos
espaJioles. 3 vols, in 8. Madrid, 1880. Vol. ii. As to the In
quisition the thesis of Hefele, of Gams, and of Kncepfler that
it is primarily a State institution is exaggerated. The truth is
that the Spanish Inquisition was essentially an ecclesiastical court
of justice to which royalty lent its arms and of which it made
use to reach powerful enemies by making it as national as possible
and by taking it as much as possible away from the authority of
Rome. Cf. Fr. X. Rodrigo, Historia verdadera de la Inquisition. 3
vols. Madrid, 1876-7.
2 On the beginning of the Reform at Valladolid may be read
with interest the two trials of Maria Cazalla and of the nun Maria
Charles replied immediately that it was important
to act with extreme severity : " It is necessary that
those who are deemed guilty should be punished
with that publicity and severity which the nature of
the fault demands ; and that without exception. If
I had the strength I should try to do my share in
imposing this punishment, and I would add it to
what I have already done and suffered for this end.
But I know that this is unnecessary and that all
will be done as it should be. . . . There will be no
peace or prosperity where there is not conformity of
doctrine." 1
And in 25th May 1558 : " I assure you, my
daughter, that this business has caused and is causing
me great trouble. Were I not certain that you and
the members of the Council who are by your side
would utterly uproot the evil (for it is but a beginning
without depth or strength) by rigorously punishing
the guilty to prevent it from growing further, I
should make up my mind to leave this place to
go and remedy matters myself."
And he adds " that they must be pitiless, that he
had himself formerly acted thus in Flanders . . .
where the obstinate had been burned alive and the
repentant beheaded when they had made their peace
with the Church." 2 (This particular indulgence with
regard to the repentant was soon to be extolled by
the chief of the English Presbyterians, Thomas
Finally in the codicil of Charles V.'s will which
he added a few days before his death he enjoined his
de San Hieronyms, published fully in Melgares Marin, Procedimientos
de la Inquisicion. Madrid, 1886. 2 vols, in 12. Vol. ii.
1 Quoted by Mignet, Charles-Quint a Yuste, p. 363.
* Ibid. p. 365.
son to seek out and punish, without mercy or pity
for any, all the heretics in his dominions ; " doing
thus you will have my blessing and the Lord will
bless all your undertakings." 1
At the same time Vasquez had given information
to King Philip II.
Paul IV. wrote to the general Inquisitor to re
commend him to follow up the heretics " were they
dukes, princes, kings, or emperors."
In this brief the Pope enjoined confessors " to
refuse absolution to those who would not denounce
all who were inculcated in heresy, even their
On 9th September 1558 Philip ordered "that all
those who bought, sold, or read forbidden books, such
as the Holy Scriptures in the Vulgar tongue should
be condemned to be burned alive." 2
The informers were to receive a portion of the
confiscated goods.
The grand Inquisitor, Fernando Valdes, Archbishop
of Seville, proceeded with ability, allowing his agents
to mix with those suspected of heresy so as to know
all, but at the same time he placed the most energetic
men at the head of the Inquisition of Seville and of
Valladolid, the two principal centres of heresy. He
found it necessary to excuse himself for this slow
process by explaining all to Charles V.
Thanks to these underhand methods Valdes got to
know the name and addresses of all the Spanish re
formers, even those who were living abroad. Then
suddenly at the least expected moment he seized and
threw in prison all those who might be in the least
1 Quoted by Mignet, Charles-Quint A Yuste, p. 372.
2 Droin, vol. i. pp. 264-5, from Giiell y Rente, Philippe II. et Don
Carlos devanl VHistoire, 1878, p. 120.
tainted with heresy. At Seville and in its suburbs
two hundred persons were arrested in a single day ;
other arrests brought the number up to eight
hundred. The number was scarcely less at Valladolid.
Arrests were made in the most remote provinces
of the peninsula. It was in this great harvest of
1558 that the principal leaders of the Protestant
movement were taken, especially at Valladolid and
at Logrofto.
After the arrests and the trials came the penalties.
Five important autos da fe took place *at Valladolid
on 22nd May 1559 ; at Seville on 24th September
1559 ; at Valladolid, 8th October 1559 ; at Toledo,
25th February 1560 ; and at Seville, 22nd December
The first of these lugubrious solemnities took place
on 22nd May 1559 in the presence of the Regent
Joan, of her nephew Don Carlos, of a considerable
number of nobles and ladies, and of an immense
crowd of people.
The celebrated theologian Melchior Cano had been
chosen to preach the sermon.
The Regent and the heir to the crown, Don Carlos,
took a vow to uphold the Inquisition in every place
and at every time.
aThe auto da fe or act of faith, Spanish acto defi, consisted in
the reconciliation of the repentant culprits, the acquittal of those
who had been unjustly accused, and the solemn condemnation of
the guilty. After which the inquisitors retired, and the obstinate
heretics or convicted criminals were given over to the secular
power. Popular language has confused the auto da fe with the
punishments that followed. Llorente speaks of an auto da 6 held
at Toledo on 12th February I486, when 750 guilty were punished ;
no capital punishment was given, but all underwent a canonical
penance. It often happened thus.
The reading of the sentences, the degradation of
the condemned ecclesiastics, and other formalities to
be gone through, lasted from six o'clock in the mornuntil
two in the afternoon. Nobody showed the
least sign of fatigue, and the Regent did not retire
until all was finished.
The condemned, escorted by guards and followed
by the clergy, confraternities, and schools, then went
towards the quemadero, which was either a pile or
a block. Fourteen were to be burnt.
The first called was Agostino Cazalla, who was
reconciled to the Church, and exhorted his com
panions to abjure their errors. The inquisitors re
warded him by ordering that he should be strangled
before being thrown into the flames.
His brother Francesco, priest of Valladolid, refused
to retract, and was burnt. His third brother Pedro
was strangled in exchange for some useful in
The same favour was accorded to several others of
the condemned who retracted, especially to several
women, amongst them being Beatrix de Vibero.
The bachelor Herrezuelo showed an unconquerable
On 24th September at the auto da fe" of Seville
twenty-two persons were burnt. One woman, Maria
Bohorques, continued to the very end her protesta
tions of faith in the Lutheran doctrines. The priest
Juan Gonzalez and his two young sisters marched to
the scaffold singing psalms, an incident which made
a great impression on the people.
The auto da ft: held at Valladolid on 8th October
1559 was honoured by the presence of Philip II.,
who had been recalled to Spain by the progress of
heresy. Princes, ambassadors, and the nobles of
Spain accompanied him. " The auto of these
heretics," relates Diego de Simancas, * "took place
with much ceremony. In the market-place a new
kind of scaffold had been erected so that the guilty
might be seen from all sides and all around were
assembled the people of the town and of the
neighbourhood." The sermon was preached by the
Bishop of Cuenca. When it was finished the Arch
bishop of Seville approached the king and said in
a loud voice : " O God, hasten to come to our aid ! "
Philip II. immediately stood up, and drawing his
sword expressed his firm resolve to place it at the
disposal of the Catholic religion. Then he took a
vow to help the Inquisition to seek out heretics.
It was at this auto da fe" that Don Carlos de Seso
was burnt, and it is to him that Philip II. is supposed
to have addressed these celebrated words : "I would
carry the wood to the stake myself to burn my own
son if he were as guilty as thou." And when some
nobles interceded for Seso, he said : " It is but meet
and just that noble blood which has become impure
should be purified by fire, and if my own blood were
tainted in my son, I should be the first to throw him
in the fire."2
Before dying Domingo de Rojas held firmly to his
belief in spite of the supplications of his brother
Dominicans who were around him.
Several nuns of the convent of Saint Claire at
Valladolid were also burnt on this day.
At the auto da f^ at Seville on 22nd September
1 Diego de Simancas was secretary to the Holy Office. The
quotations which follow are taken from Castro, Historia de los
prote.sta ides espaiioles, bks. ii. and iii.
2 The accounts of this incident do not agree. Cf. Menendez
Pelayo, V. ii. p. 353.
1560 Julianillo Hernandez (Julien le Petit) was burnt.
He had been imprisoned for three years and tortured
several times. He protested to the end. Egidius and
Ponce de la Fuente, former preacher to Charles V.,
and the Protestant apostle of Andalusia were burnt
in effigy.
There were other autos da fd in several towns :
Protestants were burnt until the end of the century,
but after 1570 Protestantism in Spain may be con
sidered as at an end.
Such scenes make one shudder : yet we cannot
but acknowledge with Joseph de Maistre that the
religious strifes of the seventeenth century caused less
blood to flow in Spain than elsewhere. Compare the
number of victims of the Spanish Inquisition to those
of the religious wars in France and Germany or even
to the number condemned under Henry VIII.,
Edward VI., and Elizabeth, and mark the difference !
In my study on the religious struggles in France
I have shown what were the punishments inflicted by
the law on the Protestants under Francis I. and
Henry II. and how they reached a totally opposite
result to that desired. It was the same in England
under Mary Tudor. However badly treated she
may have been by Henry VIII. or by Edward VI.,
Mary remained kind. She showed a clemency, un
usual in those days, to her political enemies, and only
three rebels were beheaded for the attempt at usurpa
tion made by Jane Grey. With regard to the Pro
testants, she showed the same moderation and kind
liness at the beginning, and when Parliament dis
approved, Mary Tudor refused to listen to their advice.
In the second year of her reign all was changed under
certain influences which it has been impossible to
determine but at anyrate partly by the force of
circumstances, by pamphlets, plots, and revolts.
The stubborn animosity of married ecclesiastics de
prived of their livings and that of the Protestants on
the Continent surpasses everything. It was thought
that a few examples would suffice, but they were
carried further. On 20th January 1555 the Statute
of Heresy was enacted in all its extreme rigour.
The first victim was a certain Rogers, a married
priest, who was degraded and burnt at Smithfield.
" Have you not prayed against the Pope yourself for
twenty years ? " he asked the Chancellor Gardiner,
who presided at the trial. " I was forced to do so by
cruelty," replied the latter. "And would you use
cruelty towards others ? " returned Rogers.
The fate of Roland Taylor (1555) is particularly
touching. Curate of Hadleigh, arrested in London,
he was condemned to suffer in his own parish. His
wife " suspecting that her husband would that night
be carried away," had waited through the darkness
with her children in the porch of Saint Botolph's, beside
Aldgate. " Now when the sheriff and his company
came against Saint Botolph's Church, Elizabeth cried,
saying, ' O my dear father ! Mother ! mother ! here is
my father led away ! ' Then cried his wife, ' Roland,
Roland, where art thou ? ' for it was a very dark
morning, that the one could not see the other. Dr
Taylor answered, ' I am here, dear wife,' and stayed.
The sheriff's men would have led him forth, but the
sheriff said, ' Stay a little, masters, I pray you, and
let him speak to his wife.' Then came she to him,
and he took his daughter, Mary, in his arms, and he
and his wife and Elizabeth knelt down and said the
Lord's prayer. At which sight the sheriff wept apace,
and so did divers others of the company. After they
had prayed he rose up and kissed his wife, and shook
her by the hand, and said, ' Farewell, my dear wife,
be of good comfort, for I am quiet in my conscience !
God shall still be a father to my children.' . . . Then
said his wife, ' God be with thee, dear Roland ! I will,
with God's grace, meet thee at Hadleigh ! ' . . . All
the way Dr Taylor was merry and cheerful as one
that accounted himself going to a most pleasant
banquet or bridal. . . . Coming within two miles of
Hadleigh he desired to light off his horse, which done,
he leaped and set a frisk or twain as men commonly
do for dancing. ' Why, Master Doctor,' quoth the
sheriff, ' how do you now ? ' He answered, ' Well,
God be praised, Master Sheriff, never better, for now
I know I am almost at home. I lack not past two
stiles to go over, and I am even at my Father's
house ! ' . . . The streets of Hadleigh were beset on
both sides with men and women of the town and
country who waited to see him ; whom when they
beheld so led to death, with weeping eyes and lament
able voices, they cried, ' Ah, good Lord ! there goeth
our good shepherd from us ! ' The journey was at
last over. ' What a place is this,' he asked, ' and
what meaneth it that so much people are gathered to
gether ? ' It was answered, ' It is Oldham Common,
the place where you must suffer, and the people are
come to look upon you.' Then said he, ' Thanked
be God, I am even at home ! ' . . . But when the
people saw his reverend and ancient face, with a long
white beard, they burst out with weeping tears and
cried, saying, ' God save thee, Dr Taylor ; God
strengthen thee and help thee ; the Holy Ghost
comfort thee ! ' He wished, but was not suffered, to
speak. When he had prayed, he went to the stake,
and kissed it, and set himself into a pitch barrel which
they had set for him to stand on, and so stood with
his back upright against the stake, with his hands
folded together, and his eyes towards heaven, and so
let himself be burned." One of the executioners
" cruelly cast a faggot at him, which hit upon his head
and brake his face that the blood ran down his visage.
Then said Dr Taylor, ' Oh, friend, I have harm enough
what needed that ? '" One more act of brutality
brought his sufferings to an end. " So stood he still
without either crying or moving, with his hands
folded together, till Soyce with a halberd struck him
on the head that the brains fell out, and the dead
corpse fell down into the fire."1
Such scenes only served to excite pity, and the
courage of many Protestants helped their cause.
" PLay the man, Master Ridley," said the old Bishop
Latimer as the flames shot up around him : " we
shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in
England, as I trust shall never be put out." 2
He spoke the truth. The two hundred victims3
who suffered under Mary Tudor have effaced from
the memory of Protestants and many others the
Catholic blood shed by the predecessors and successors
of this unhappy queen.
The religious wars, although infinitely more formid
able in their multifarious consequences, seem to us
less odious than these punishments. The Church
did not incite them, but, 'once begun, she exhorted
kings to pursue them to the bitter end without pity,
and the Pope supplied troops to help them on. Saint
1 Green, History of the English People, p. 357.
2 Ibid. p. 359.
s This is the number given by Lingard ; Cobbett gives 277 ;
the historian Dixon gives, for the year 1555, 31 persons in the
diocese of London, 10 in that of Canterbury, 26 in the other
diocesesaltogether 67 ; in 1556, 37 in the diocese of London,
8 in the diocese of Norwich, 25 in other placesaltogether 74.
Pius V. wrote to Catherine de Medici on 28th March
1569 : " It is only by the complete extermination of
heretics that the king will be able to give back the
ancient worship of the Catholic religion to this noble
kingdom. If Your Majesty continues to war openly
and zealously against the enemies of the Catholic
religion until they are all massacred Divine succour
will not be wanting." 1 When sending a little army
to Charles IX. he said to him : " Your Majesty may
use these soldiers in the war which the Huguenots,
your subjects but the declared foes of God and His
Church, have incited against your sacred person and
against the general good of your kingdom " (6th
March 1569).2
After the battle of Jarnac he counsels the continua
tion of the war, and because the prisoners have been
set free he complains in these words : " Do not spare
the enemies of God in any way whatever or for any
reason whatever, nullo modo, nullisque de causis hostibus
Dei parcendum est."
" They must suffer the punishments and penalties
of the law. ... Be equally inexorable to all : ceque
omnibus inexorabilem te prcebere ; to act otherwise
would be to offend God and would compromise both
the safety of the king and the security of the king
After Montcontour (October 1569) he gives the
same advice : " If Your Majesty wishes your kingdom
to be prosperous you must try to uproot heresy, and
you must not permit anything but the exercise of
1 Letter of Pius V. to Catherine de Medici. Ed. Goubau,
Antwerp, 1640, p. 155.
* Ibid. p. 150. Cf. de Falloux, Saint Pie V. vol. i. p. 217.
8 These remarks are taken from the Letters of Pius V. to
Catherine de Medici and to Charles IX., 28th March and 13th
April 1569. Ed. Goubau, pp. 151, 155, 165, 166.
the Catholic religion, which began almost with the
monarchy, and which the most Christian kings, your
predecessors, have professed and upheld with so much
zeal. So long as there is division of spirits in religious
matters Your Majesty will be in trouble and your
kingdom will be the bloody theatre of continual
He also tried to prevent the peace which Catherine
sought to conclude.2 This does not mean, as has
been pretended, that he knew and approved before
hand of the plans which ended in the massacre of
Saint Bartholomew. What he wanted was open war ;
when he heard that the French court were con
templating the deaths of Coligny and of Conde" he
was unreserved in his blame.3
In the same way Gregory XIII. expressed great
annoyance when he heard that the Cardinal de
Lorraine had allowed Maureval, who had aimed at
the Admiral, to enter the Vatican. "He is an
assassin," he cried.4
All documents go to prove that the papacy was in
nowise the accomplice of Saint Bartholomew, and the
satisfaction it showed was due, whatever else may be
said, to the false account of the affair communicated
by the French government.6
1 Quoted by Falloux, SaitU Pie V. vol. i. p. 226.
2 See the remarks quoted by Vacaudard, Les Papes et la Saint
Barthilemy, Etudes de critique, etc., pp. 231-236.
3 See Vacaudard, ibid. p. 240 sqq.
4 Quoted by La Ferriere, La Sainte-Barthilemy, la veille, le jour,
le lendemam, p. 151.
6 Ibid. La Ferriere also brings forward the evidence of Lord
Acton and of the Protestant historian Soldan, who writes : " There
are documents which prove that these events took place outside
Roman influence ; the accounts given by Salviati are marvellously
Such is the truth of facts which I can hardly be
accused of having misrepresented.
I should be giving you a very false impression,
however, if I allowed you to believe that the action
of the Protestants differed in any way from that of
the Catholics. I have given their theories : their
practices were in harmony with them.
" It is a question," says a historian who is not
partial to the Inquisition, M. Langlois, "whether
more Catholics have been destroyed by the Albigensian
Inquisition than Anabaptists have been killed in
Lutheran and Calvinistic Germany ? " 1
The Protestant rulethis remark is mere common
placeis intolerance with regard to Catholics, and it
always has been. To see this it is sufficient to read
the history of the establishment of the Reformation
in the large German towns before Luther's death.
It is the same in Switzerland. In June 1528, the
Council of Bern gave orders that all statues were to
be broken and all altars to be overthrown, that all
priests who said Mass were to be arrested and thrown
into prison, as well as any who should dare to speak
against the members of the Council. Those who
harboured priests were punished in the same way,
and citizens were forbidden to hear Mass even in a
neighbouring canton. At one time gibbets were
erected in the streets for those who should dare to
speak against Mr Calvin ! And we all know how
Mr Calvin treated Sebastien Castellion, Bolsec, and
above all Michel Servet
in accord with the avowals of the Duke of Anjou. Consequently
the theory of premeditation, or that of any understanding with
Rome, is quite out of the question." Soldan, la France et la Saint-
Barthelemy, translated from the German by Ch. Schmidt, Paris,
1855, pp. 34-35.
1 The Inquisition, according to recent works, Paris, 1902, p. 42.
In 1593, in Sweden at the diet of Upsala, Catholic
worship was absolutely forbidden and all Catholics
excluded from public service. Charles IX., the
conqueror of Sigismond, put to death all those
Catholic governors named by the latter who refused
to abjure. In 1604 at the diet of Norkeeping it was
decided that every prince or king of Sweden who
should renounce the Lutheran religion or should
marry a princess of another religion should forfeit all
right to the crown ; that whoever should persuade a
prince to change his religion should be declared a
traitor to the country, and that every Swede who
gave up the Lutheran religion should be deprived
of his goods to the advantage of his nearest relatives
and should be banished from the kingdom. Thus in
Sweden, as well as in Denmark and Norway for
more than two centuries, the Catholic religion was
completely prohibited. Every Catholic was exiled
and his property confiscated, whilst any priest found
in one of these three countries incurred the penalty
of death.1
In 1582, as soon as the Protestants obtained the
upper hand in the Dutch Netherlands, they forbade
Catholics to worship publicly. At the congress of
Cologne, 1673, the Dutch declared that they would
rather abandon ten of their towns than grant tolera
tion to Catholics. Even after the revocation of the
Edict of Nantes their opinion did not change.2 With
1 De Meaux, La Biforme et la politi que francaise en Europe, vol. i.
pp. 124-125 ; also Geijer, vol. iii. ch. vii. ; and Theiner, La Suede et
le Saint-Siege, vol. iii. pp. 223-243.
2 On this intolerance see Mignet, Negoc. relatives d la Succession
d'Espagne, 1673, vol. iv. "Such toleration, said the Dutch, would
shake the very foundations of their State ; and the republic of the
United Provinces would rather give up ten places and engage
in perpetual warfare than grant it."
regard to the abolition of the Test Act and of the
Penal Laws by James II., an Englishman asked the
Grand Pensionary of Holland what were the senti
ments of the Prince and Princess of Orange in this
respect. Fagel replied that William and his wife
would not be adverse to allowing Catholics and other
nonconformists the right to exercise their religion
privately and without ostentation, but that it would
be necessary to preserve in all their vigour those
laws by which Roman Catholics were excluded from
all public service, as well as all those laws which con
firmed and assured the Protestant religion against
the attacks of Roman Catholics. " It is certain,"
wrote Fagel, " that the Protestant religion is, by the
grace of God and by the laws of Parliament, the
public and established religion of Great Britain,
and that these laws will only admit to Parliament or
to any other public service those who are Protestants
and not Roman Catholics. ... It is certain also that
there is no kingdom, nor republic, nor any body or
society of men whatever which has not made laws
for its safety and thus provided against all attack."
However, were not such practices opposed to what
took place in the United Provinces ? Here were not
Catholics admitted to public posts ? " No," replied
Fagel, " you make a great mistake ; it is true that
they are not excluded from military service ; that
would have been really too hard, because in the first
foundation of our state, they helped us in the defence
of public liberty. But they are excluded in express
terms from all part in the government and from all
the offices of the police and of justice because it is
just in these offices that they might use a baneful
influence." * Catholic marriages were only valid on
1 Letters of Fagel to Stewart, 4th November 1687, in Dumont,
condition that they were performed before a
But here again " liberal " England is foremost in
the fray. In the reign of Elizabeth, to bring or
receive a document from Rome containing a judicial
act is counted treason and punishable by death.
Simple objects blessed by the Pope are emblems of
sedition ; to wear them is a crime worthy of prison.
It is a capital crime to receive a priest from abroad or
even to accept his hospitality. Every Catholic
apostle in England has death constantly hanging
over his head and over the heads of those who
approach him.1
A statute enacted in 1593 obliged Catholics to
remain at home and forbade them to go farther than
five miles away without incurring the penalty of
forfeiting their property or of being banished if they
happened to possess none.
M. de Meaux writes : " The labouring class and the
artisans are constantly ground down by fines, are
flogged or ear-marked with a red-hot iron when they
cannot pay, and have no alternative but to go to
Protestant churches or to perish miserably. At the
same time the better-class families have not an
instant's peace in their homes. They are perpetually
Corps diplomatique, vol. vii. 2nd part, p. 151. It is objected that
there was in the Dutch Netherlands a great tolerance with regard
to Catholics because of the prevalent religious indifference. Fagel
here recalls what was usual with regard to public functions, and as
to the rest, we may believe Iurieu (Letter VIII. p. 432) when he
declares that in some of the Netherland provinces there was
" no convenience for papists. When they are discovered," he says,
" they are not protected from the violence of the people." Cf.
Bossuet, sixth note, No. 84.
1 De Meaux, La Riforme et la politique francaise en Europe, vol. i,
p. 43.
tormented by bands of men who come to search,
hunt about, pillage, and ravage the house of their
ancestors and to take the inmates to prison. . . .
These searches seem to have spread more dismay
among the whole body of Catholics than even the
sight of the gibbets at Tybum, and that was truly a
horrible sight; the executioner who hanged the
martyr afterwards cut him open and tore out his
bowels without waiting for him to die. " *
Under Elizabeth two hundred Catholics suffered
thus, the most of them being priests. Eighty-six
died in prison, among them the Earl of Arundel, heir
to the most noble house in England. It would be
impossible to count the number of those who were
imprisoned, flogged, exiled, or ruined by fines and
confiscations. Already before the year 1588 a con
temporary could count twelve hundred by their
names, and declared that many more existed.
I will spare you the relation of certain atrocious
and exquisite punishments, which would harrow your
nerves as well as arouse your compassion. But still
I would like to remind you of the martyrdom of
Cuthbert Maine, the first who had the honour of
entering the bloody way, a young Anglican clergy
man who had been converted and ordained priest.
He was arrested in the house of a Catholic gentleman
named Tregian, who had offered him a refuge, and
was imprisoned in a horrible dungeon. Several
heads of accusation were exhibited against him at
his trial, as :
1st. That he had obtained from Rome a Bull, con
1 De Meaux, as quoted, pp. 46-47 ; from Troubles of our Catholic
Forefather, 3rd series, London, 1877, and Records of the English
Catholics. Journaur de Douai, Introduction, p. lxxxi., and Appendix,
p. 357.
taining matter of absolution of the queen's subjects.
This was no other than a printed copy of the Bull of
the Jubilee of the foregoing year, which they had
found among his papers.
2nd. That he had published this Bull at Golden,
in the house of Mr Tregian.
3rd. That he had maintained the usurped power
of the Bishop of Rome, and denied the queen's
4th. That he had brought into the kingdom an
Agnus Dei, and delivered it to Mr Tregian.
5th. That he had said Mass in Mr Tregian's
There were no sufficient proofs of any of these
heads of the indictment which were followed by
sentence of death in which this extraordinary pre
amble was made, " that where plain proofs were
wanting, strong presumptions ought to take place ;
of which, according to the logic of the judge, they
had a good store in the cause in hand, knowing the
prisoner to be a popish priest, and an enemy of the
queen's religion."
" His life was offered him 2 if he would renounce
his religion ; which when he refused to do, they
pressed him at least to swear upon the Bible, that
the queen was the supreme head of the Church of
England, assuring him of his life if he would do this ;
but if he refused it he must then be hanged, drawn,
and quartered, according to sentence. Upon this he
took the Bible into his hands, made the sign of the
cross upon it, kissed it, and said, the queen neither
ever was, nor is, nor ever shall be, the head of the
Church of England."
1 Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, p. 17.
2 Challoner, ibid. pp. 18-19.
" He was to be drawn a quarter of a mile to the
place of execution. . . . When he came to the market
place of the town, where they had on purpose erected
a gibbet of unusual height, being taken off the sledge,
he knelt down and prayed : when he was on the ladder,
and the rope about his neck, he would have spoken
to the people, but the justices would not suffer him,
but bid him say his prayers, which he did very
devoutly. And as the hangman was about to turn
the ladder, one of the justices spoke to him in this
manner : ' Now, villain and traitor, thou knowest that
thou shalt die, and therefore tell us whether Mr Tregian
and Sir John Arundel did know of these things which
thou art condemned for ; and also what thou dost
know by them?' Mr Maine answered him very
mildly : ' I know nothing of Mr Tregian and Sir
John Arundel, but that they are good and godly
gentlemen ; and as for the things I am condemned
for, they were only known to me and to no other.'
Then he was cast off the ladder saying : ' In manus
tuas commendo spiritum meum ' and knocking his
breast. . . . He was indeed cut down alive, but falling
from the beam, which was of an unusual height, with
his head upon the side of the scaffold, on which he
was to be quartered, he was by that means almost
quite killed ; and therefore but little sensible of the
ensuing butchery. His quarters were disposed of,
one to Bodwin, one to Tregny, one to Barnstaple,
and the fourth to remain at Launceston Castle : his
head was set upon a pole at Wadebridge, a noted
As to his host Tregian, he endured henceforth
that long martyrdom which, lasting for thirty years,
led him, exhausted, ruined, ill-treated, from dun
geon to dungeon, while his noble family, stripped
of everything, had to depend on the charity of
Protestants are not slow in asking our pity for the
constancy and sufferings of those of their sect who
died for their beliefs ; we do not blame them, but is
the history of the martyrs which they made less
touching and less worthy of respect? Read, for
example, the account of the arrest of the Jesuit
Campion and his companions, the odious means by
which the fury of the populace was excited against
them on a long march, the perfidies of captious ques
tioners, the cruel cynicism of judges, the noble
answers of the accused. The scenes in Paris under
Henry II. are well equalled. " If we had looked upon
death with fear," said Campion, before the judge, " we
should not have embraced this kind of life where we
have death constantly before our eyes. But because
we thought it to be our duty and because we knew
that we were not lords of our lives, we have defended
them as long as possible, and we have been careful to
repeat and to destroy the accusations brought against
us. You see how much use this has been ! "
" For the rest, I think it is manifest to everybody
that we are not all condemned for any offence to Her
Majesty but because of our religion. The witnesses
have not brought forward any proofs that had not
regard to religion : the conjectures, if one had to rely
only on conjectures, are not strong enough. Finally,
supposing that every thing that has been said against
us were true the whole accusation is not so serious
but what we could annul it by entering just once
into your temple. It is then for religion that we die,
and as there is no more honourable cause in the eyes
1 Destombes, La persecution religieuse en Angleterre, sous Elisabeth et
les premiers Stuarts, vol. i. pp. 243-252.
of God or man I do not see why we should refuse to
die. As far as I am concerned then you may pass
judgment on me according to your conscience. I
have nothing further to add to my defence."
The judge then passed sentence.
" You must go to the place from whence you came,
there to remain until ye shall be drawn through the
open city of London upon hurdles to the place of
execution, and there be hanged and let down alive,
and your privy parts cut off, and your entrails
taken out and burnt in your sight ; then your heads
to be cut off, and your bodies to be divided in four
parts to be disposed of at Her Majesty's pleasure.
And God have mercy on your souls."1
The sentence passed, Campion with glowing eyes
chanted the Te Deum, the six who were condemned
with him doing likewise.
Brian, one of his companions, does not astonish us
less by his constancy. Arrested during his sleep, he
was immediately led away to prison, where he was left
for several days without food. At last some nourish
ment was brought to him, and to quench his burning
thirst he was allowed to catch the water which
dropped from the roof of his cell in his hat. In a
first cross-examination he was asked in what places
he had said Mass and whose confessions he had heard.
Brian kept silence. To make him answer needles
were pushed under the nails of his feet and hands.
The missionary offered his hands calmly, and with
eyes raised to heaven recited the Miserere and asked
God to forgive his executioners. Other tortures were
continuously inflicted and the martyr's body was one
mass of wounds when he was led back to prison.
There he was once more placed on the rack, and
1 Quoted from Life of Edward Campion.
fainted in the arms of the torturers, who threw cold
water on his face to bring him back to life and to his
cruel torments. These cruelties were the subject of
unseemly jokes on the part of Elizabeth's officers.
Norton, who had presided at the examination, boasted
that he had made him a foot longer than God had.
The lieutenant of the Tower was not ashamed to hit
the sufferer in the face whilst he was being tortured
on the rack. When the condemned were being
dragged on hurdles for three miles they were insulted
by the populace, wounded by stones, and besmirched
with mud while the ministers urged them to apostasy.1
And let it not be said that these abominations were
excused by the contest. Study the Catholic martyrology
of England in the seventeenth century, when
the strife was long since over, or the history of this
pretended papistical plot of 1678, seven years before
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, a plot which was
absolutely concocted, but which served to throw two
thousand Catholics in prison, to banish thirty thousand
from London and its suburbs, to cause the execution
of many, among them Coleman, secretary to the
Duke of York, and the venerable Viscount de Stafford.
Note, too, the lengthy persecution of the Irish, dis
inherited, starved, sold as slaves, bled to death. Mark
the English Catholics treated as outcasts and subjected
to exclusion laws until 1829 ! And it is the authors of
these laws and of these acts who reproach us for the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes ! The French
legislation with regard to Protestants after the re
vocation of the Edict of Nantes was similar to the
Protestant legislation with regard to Catholics. Yet
the French government did not indulge in infamous
judicial farces as did the English government !
1 Destombes, La persecution religieuse en Engleterre, vol. ii. chap, i.
Can it be said perhaps that if Protestants made
dire laws against Catholics at anyrate they adhered
to the law and did not have recourse to warfare or
public violence ? But it was they who were the first
to begin religious wars. Was it not in the lifetime
of Luther, even, that the German Protestant princes
leagued together against the Emperor Charles V. ?
Was it not on the very morrow of the arch-heretic's
death that armed warfare began ? In France, as I
have shown, it was they who began the civil wars of
1562 and of 1567. In Germany too, in the seven
teenth century, who inaugurated the never-to-beatoned-
for Thirty Years' War if not they who on
23rd May 1615 threw out of the castle windows at
Prague three Catholic members of the Government
Council ? Gustavus Adolphus mercilessly massacred
the garrison of Frankfurt-am- Oder, composed of seven
thousand men. And what can be said of Mansfeld's
soldiers, who threw defenceless peasants into the midst
of their own burning cottages and who killed like
dogs all those who wished to save themselves, and
threw women on to the fire, having first cruelly out
raged them ? These crimes were so terrible that the
Swedish Protestant, General Bannes, declared that it
would be no matter for astonishment if the earth
opened to swallow up such heinous abominations.
Still more bloodthirsty than Gustavus Adolphus
was the Puritan Cromwell, who waged in Ireland
I quote the Protestant historian Macaulaya war
"resembling that which Israel waged on the Canaanites,
smote the idolaters with the edge of the sword, so
that great cities were left without inhabitants, drove
many thousands to the Continent, shipped off many
thousands to the West Indies, and supplied the void
thus made by pouring in numerous colonists, of
Saxon blood, and of Calvinistic faith." * He had no
respect even for oaths, and during the capitulation he
massacred for five days long the defenders and the
inhabitants of Drogheda.
Do you wish for other examples of violence outside
a legitimate warfare ?
In 1566 the Protestants of Flanders and of Artois
began by breaking the crosses and the statues of the
saints. Then they proceeded to invade towns and
villages, breaking into chapels, churches, and convents,
destroying the altars and sacred vessels. More than
four hundred churches were pillaged in three days,
and soon after the whole of the Netherlands underwent
the same fate.
At Haarlem on 29th May 1578, which was the
feast of Corpus Christi, the soldiers fell on the
Catholics, ransacked churches and convents, and
handed them over to the reformers.
In July 1572 the Franciscans of Gorkum and nine
other priests, having first been subjected to numerous
ill-treatments, were taken 'by the soldiers, who kept
striking them in procession round a gibbet, after
which they were hanged in an old barn to the
number of nineteen. Their noses and ears were
slit, their bodies ripped open and the fat torn out,
which fat was afterwards sold round about the country.
In France after 1561 the sack of Saint-Me'dard at
Paris and also of several other churches had for result
the act of Parliament which authorised the people to
massacre any who should be found pillaging the
1 Macaulay, History of England, chap. i. p. 106. (Everyman's
2 " Relying on this act," says a Catholic historian, "the people
indulged in a strange slaughter of Protestants in revenge for their
Normandy, Dauphiny, and Provence were reeking
with crime. In 1561 armed Protestants seized the
principal churches in several towns of Languedoc.
Finding themselves the masters at Montauban,
Castres, Beziers, and at Nimes, they prohibited all
Catholic worship in these four towns, ousted the
religious from their convents, and obliged them to
hear sermons in those churches whence the priests
had been driven out. At Montauban they drove the
people with whip and cat-of-nine-tails. Those who
resisted were imprisoned and flogged until the blood
came ; several died under the blows.1 From his
retreat Calvin applauded these bloody scenes. They
were, as he wrote in his preface, " his consolation, his
joy, and his happiness."
All this is previous to the famous2 massacre of
Vassy of 1st March 1562, which the Protestants like
to give as the cause of the first religious war so as to
make the responsibility fall on the Catholics. Besides,
in 1562 the factious Protestants were all ready for
war, and only waiting for a pretext to begin.
Ten years before Saint Bartholomew Protestants
had indulged in local massacres similar to those which
were to be witnessed in many provinces in 1572.
Already in 1562 at Orleans they dragged an old
man of eighty, named Saint-Euverte, through the
streets, beat him unmercifully, and hanged him.
They poisoned six grey friars, killed the cure" of
insolence, oppressions, and cruelties." Hisioire di notre temps,
aitribuei a Piguerre (Catholic), bk. vi. chap. xii.
1 See this fact mentioned in the letters of Joyeuse to Connetable,
l6th September, 24th and 28th October, 2nd November 156l,
Mimoires-Journaux du due de Guise, Michand and Poujoulat collec
tion, vol. vi. pp. 466-471. M&moires de Jean Philippi, 1561-1562.
Petitot collection, vol. xxxiv.
2 However, Calvin blamed the atrocities of the Baron des Adrets.
Saint- Paterne, and threw the canon of the cathedral
from a tower. In the village of Pat, about six or
seven miles distant from Orleans, they burned twentyfive
Catholicsamong them several childrenin the
clock tower. When two of these children jumped
down to escape the flames, these furies threw them
back again.
At Angouleme, which had surrendered on condi
tion "that the Catholics, ecclesiastics, and others
should remain in safety," the capitulation treaty was
violated on the very next day. The guardian of
the Franciscan convent was hanged on a tree and
strangled ; Brother Viroleau was mutilated and put
to death ; Brother Avril, who was eighty years old,
had his head smashed ; thirty Catholics, who had
taken refuge in the house of a townsman named
Papin, were killed ; some, bound two and two to
gether, died of hunger ; others were stretched on cords
and their bodies sawn through the middle ; whilst
others again were bound to stakes and slowly roasted
to death.
At Nimes on 30th September 1567 the Pro
testants massacred and threw into a well seventy-two
Catholic prisoners, then they killed forty-eight de
fenceless people in the country. In 1568 at Melle
and at Fontenay they slaughtered the garrison, which
had surrendered ; on 24th August 1569 at Pau they
assassinated a number of Catholic gentlemen ; while
on 29th September 1569, the feast of Saint Michael
(whence the name Michelade given to the massacre),
they slaughtered during seven hours some Catholics
whom they had imprisoned in the vaults of a church.
In 1570, at Orthez according to certain accounts,
as many as two thousand Catholics were butchered.1
1 This fact has been denied by Protestant historians. M. de
In Dauphiny two hundred and fifty-six priests and
one hundred and twelve religious were put to death.
At le Quercy all the priests, numbering one hundred
and seventy, were killed at Lauzette, where they had
taken refuge.
Moreover, whenever priests in sufficient number
could be found the Protestants hunted them out to
make them undergo the most varied and exquisite
tortures that a ferocious imagination could suggest
to hangmen.
At Saint-Macaire, in Gascony, they ripped open
the bodies of the priests and gradually wound their
entrails round sticks ; others they buried alive. At
Mans they hacked off" a piece from a priest's body,
roasted it, and made him eat it, then they opened his
stomach to see how it was digesting. In another
place they tore out a priest's entrails, and filling his
stomach with oats they used it as a manger for their
horses to eat out of. Numbers of similar cruelties
will be found related in a document entitled " Horrible
cruelties of the Huguenots in France," published in
the sixth volume of Curious Records of the History
of France by Cimber and Danjou.1
With such deeds on one's conscience it is hardly
Meaux, Les luttes retigieuses en France, pp. 124-5, notes 2 and 3.
Montgomery, the executioner of Beam, was condemned and
executed in effigy.
1 Desclee, the publisher (Lille and Bruges), reprinted a few
years ago, suppressing the obscenities that Protestant fanatics
often committed with their cruelties, the Theatre des cruantis des
htritiques in the sixteenth century. This relates the cruelties of
the English Schismatics under Henry VIII., the horrible excesses
of the French Huguenots against Catholics, the barbarous perpetra
tions of the Cal vinistic knaves in the Netherlands. (With illustra
tions). This would be a good book to present to those who are
always harping about the Inquisition. The pictures would make a
good pair with those of the Inquisition hawked in our markets.
seemly to denounce and deplore so loudly the massacre
of Saint Bartholomew. This is said without the
least intention of excusing this crime, of which the
heavy responsibility must be borne, as I have already
shown, by Catherine de Medici and not by the
We have but one more question to deal with.
What have been the results obtained by such
violent proceedings as the Inquisition, tortures, and
religious wars ? By the Inquisition Italy and Spain
were promptly rid of those Protestants, who formed
but a small minority. Thanks to the League
and religious wars France has remained largely
Catholic. These victories must be added to those
which I have already related and which were gained
by more Apostolic means.
Let us remark too with the Baron von Hiibner,
the famous historian of Pope Sixtus V., that, in spite
of this recourse to force authorised by the customs
of the time and practised equally by the Protestants,
the Catholic reaction appeared henceforward "as a
purely religious movement, born within the depths
of conscience," while the Protestant cause was the
symbol of political and interested projects. " In this
conflict," says M. von Hiibner, " all the moral advan
tages were on the side of the Church."
It is true and we should rejoice thereat ; however,
we are not absolved from the excesses which were
committed in the name of the good cause. We do
not desire the return of practices explained by a
social state which has disappeared ; in thinking of
former evils we shall be passionately attached to
1 M. l'abbe Vacaudard proved this still more recently in the
Revue du Clerge.
religious peace ; but, if this religious peace is violated
too often and too strongly at our expense, violated
so far as to threaten the existence of our beliefs, we
shall then know how to learn the lesson taught by
our forefathers that there are some cases where in
the defence of faith one must risk alleven life.
Has Protestantism beenas statedmore favourable
than Catholicism to moral and spiritual progress ? 1
In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the
Institute of France at a public session on the 15th
Germinal of the year X. (1802) propounded the
following question : What has been the influence of
the Lutheran reformation on the political situation of
different European states and on the progress of
knowledge ?
The prize essay was entitled : Essay on the spirit
and influence of the reformation of Luther. Its author
was Charles Villers.
The choice of such a subject by the Institute in
1802, the manner in which it was dealt with by
Villers, the almost classical authority enjoyed by this
work for a long time ; all this is worth consideration
just at the moment when we are about to begin the
last series of our lectures, a series which will be de
voted to the study of this problem in various aspects.
1 For the bibliography of this chapter refer to the authority
mentioned in the opening pages. Also to the articles by Eugene
Folletfite which appeared in 1904 in the Revue de Fribourg (Switzer
land), and published separately (for sale in Paris at Bloud's). Mgr.
Freppel, Etude sur le protestantisme, Paris: Brey et Retane, 1883,
72 pages in 8vo. Hammerstein, Katholizismus mid Protestantismus,
Treves, 1 894. Krose, Der Einfluss der Konfession auf die Sittlichkeit
nach den Ergebnissen der Statistik, Fribourg in Brisgau, 1900. I
must particularly offer my thanks to M. I'abb6 Clavequin-Rosselot,
M.D., who collected a great number of statistics for me which had
been published and noticed by him in the Journal de la Santi.
Has Protestantism been, as is stated, more favourable
than Catholicism to the moral and spiritual progress,
to the intellectual progress, to the social and political
progress of modern nations ?
First of all with regard to the choice of this subject
on the morrow of the Concordat. Was it not a
protest of what France counts as most enlightened
against the official re-establishment of Catholicism,
twenty-four years after the death of Voltaire, and
some years after the publication of the Volney's
famous work, Les Rvines in 1791 and of Dupuis, De
Torigine des cultes, 1794 ? It was the echo of the
words used by many State Councillors who only con
formed to the will of the First Consul by seeking to
escape from it :" Ah, well," they said one to another,
" let us become Protestants and it will not affect us."
No religion at all would have been the programme
preferred by this Institute where the name of God
could not be pronounced without evoking a scoffing
smile. How things have changed since then ! But
as the Master's will had made itself felt it was a
propitious moment to call up comparisons unpleasant
to Catholicism and to exalt those who had been the
first to fight against it. It was an opportunity to be
The prize essay was indeed an able eulogy of Luther's
work from a political and intellectual point of view.
It most certainly is not the work of a passionate
sectarian, and the author shows more than once by
the breadth of his judgments that his sympathies
for Protestantism are not extended as far as the
dogmas and institutions which give Protestantism
its Christian character and make of it a religion.
But when it is a question of Catholicism compared
with Protestantism and of the influence of Catholicism
over minds, institutions, and morals all the philosophy
of the Essai sur les Moeurs and all the calumnies of
Voltaire rise to the fore.
For example, the author says : " The court of
Rome had adopted and made prevalent a system of
suffocation and of obscuratism." Or again : " The
maxim of the Middle Ages was to keep minds ab
solutely in the dark on certain subjects, to empty
them, so to speak, so as to be able to fill them at will
afterwards and to leave room for superstition."1
Luther was the deliverer of reason and the revenger
of common-sense ; by this alone he has contributed to
the progress of knowledge ; in declaring for free
research and in throwing off the yoke of Rome he has
brought into the world the principles of liberty of
mind, of conscience, and of politics, and thus has
brought back humanity to the way of progress;
Others more religious than Villers were yet to
show that Luther was the harbinger of the true moral
and religious life.
Half-a-century after Villers, in 1854, a French
reformed minister, M. Napoleon Roussel, published
two octavo volumes under the title of: Les nations
catholiques et les nations protestantes comparees sous le
triple rapport du bien-etre des lumieres etdela moralite*
or " The Catholic and Protestant nations compared
under the threefold aspect of prosperity, knowledge,
and morality." This author adopted with violent
partiality the ideas of Charles Villers.
A few years after our misfortunes of 1870, which
gave an appearance of truth and actuality to the theory
of the superiority of Protestant nations, a most dis
tinguished Belgian economist, Emile de Laveleye,
wrote in the Revue de Belgique an article thirty pages
1 Villers, pp. 236, 240. 2 Paris, 1854 : Meyrueis.
long, which contained all these arguments, and pre
sented them to the public in a lively and popular
style.1 This article was published separately, and
passed through thirty editions in one year. The
prosperity of Protestant nations and the inferiority of
Catholic nations, he explained in other words, are due
to reasons of cult and not of race. It is the Catholic
and Protestant principles which vary the prosperity
of the nations professing them. Protestantism is a
religion of light and liberty and consequently of
progress ; the moral and religious standard is higher
with Protestants than Catholics ; it is an essential
element of the greatness of nations. With Protestant
people the political and social state guarantees interior
peace, while Catholic nations are doomed to agitation
and disorder. The Catholic Church dreams of re
covering her supremacy ; one shudders at the thought
of the evils she would scatter over Europe were she
to succeed.
In 1899 the result of the Spanish-American War
seemed to some zealous Protestants the propitious
moment for bringing out Laveleye's article again.
Consequently they garnished it with examples which
they doubtless considered irrefutable and repub
lished it.
It must be admitted that these publications have
produced the desired effect. The ideas set forth in
1802 by Charles Villers under the distinguished
patronage of the Institute, revived and strengthened
at various times during the nineteenth century, have
long been those of almost all the intellectual world.
They are still part of the foundation of the official
code of instruction, and we find their traces even in
history manuals which are otherwise very excellent
1 Paris : Germer-Bailltere.
These divers assertions hold for many minds the rank
of a final judgment and constitute a kind of historic
dogma. Alas, one even comes across excellent
Catholics who are persuaded, with a singular naivete',
not only of the intellectual and political superiority
of Protestants, but also of their moral superiority !
However, refutations have not been wanting. M.
de Laveleye was immediately answered by a com
patriot, the Baron Haulleville. Previously, in 1848,
Balmes had already supplied Catholics with a number
of good arguments in three volumes, which were
somewhat vague in development and loose in style
perhaps, entitled Protestantism and Catholicism com
pared. In 1852 Auguste Nicolas published his book,
On Protestantism and all heresies in their relations
with socialism. In 1869 the Abbe" Martin, cure of
Ferney, near Geneva,1 wrote and published : The
future of Protestantism and Catholicism, which is a
curious work full of original views that the excite
ment of the Council and then that of the war pre
vented from obtaining the hearing it merited but
which may still be read with profit. It is four years
since Father Flam Prion's pamphlet appeared, On tfw
comparison of the prosperity of Cai/volic and Protestant
nations. One of the useful series : Science and Religion. 2
I have not yet mentioned the great historical works
which are inexhaustible mines of precious information,
like those of Doellinger, The Reformation, its interior
development and the results it has produced in the heart
of Lutheran society, or that of Mgr. Janssen, Germany
and the Reformation, works which have been trans
lated into French, and which all may consult.3
1 Paris : Tolra and Haton, octavo, 608 pages.
2 Paris: Bloud, 1901.
8 See the bibliography of the fourth lecture.
Finally, in these latter days the admirable inquiry
by M. Georges Goyan on Religious Germany {FAUemagne
religieuse), rich in facts and ideas, impartial
and lifelike, was of a nature to bring enlightenment
to unprejudiced minds.1 But error is obstinate, and
among ourselves there are many who have the bad
habit of more willingly accepting the assertion of
adversaries than of friends. Let us take up then this
necessary challenge from the ground of moral and
spiritual life.
" Everybody," says M. de Laveleye, " is agreed in
saying that the strength of nations depends on their
morality. ... It seems to be an accepted' fact that
the moral standard of Protestants is higher than that
of Catholics. Even religious writers admit this and
explain it by the fact that the former are more faith
ful than the latter to their religionan explanation
which I believe to be true. Read the novels of
France, go to the most popular theatres ; adultery
in every shape and every form forms the basis of
every plot. The novels and comedies which are the
most successful are those which should be strictly
banished from every honest home circle. In England
and in Germany this is not the case. The cause for
this reaches far back. Gallantry has become the
dominant note of works of fiction and a national
characteristic. A lady-killer is the most popular of
French sovereigns. In the countries which adopted
the Reformation, the Puritan spirit has put a bridle
on this moral laxity and has brought about a severity
which may seem excessive but which has stamped
the people with an incomparable morality.
1 L'Allemagne, religieuse. Le Protestantisme. Paris: Perin.
Quoted from the fourth edition of 1901.
" In Catholic countries those who have wished to
combat the omnipotence of the Church have borrowed
their arms, not from the Gospels, but from the spirit
of the Renaissance and of paganism. There are two
ways of attacking the Church, one is by preaching a
purer and severer Christianity than her own (to show
that she has wandered from the doctrine of Christ),
the other is by attacking dogmas by sarcasm and by
setting the senses against her moral commandments.
Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Zwingli took the first
way, Rabelais and Voltaire the second. It is evident
that the first, relying on the Gospels, must strengthen
moral sentiment, while the latter can only succeed
by ruining it. Whence it comes that nearly all
French authors who have worked for free thought
have been tainted by immorality. ... In England
and in America it is different : the most determined
partisans of liberty are precisely those who profess
the strictest morals, the Puritans and Quakers.
While Bossuet was formulating the theory of ab
solutism, Milton wrote that of the Republic. It was
the Puritans who founded liberty in England and in
the United States. On one side the writers who are
religious and moral preach servitude, whilst those
who wish for liberty respect neither religion nor
morals. On the other, on the contrary, the same
men defend religion, morality, and liberty.
" Mark the consequences ; compare the private life
of the men who made the revolution of 1648 in
England or who refounded the republic in America
with that of the men of the French Republic. The
former are of irreproachable morals, of an honesty
without a slur, of a severity of principle almost far
fetched. The latter, except a few fanatics like Saint
Just and Robespierre, are, for the most part, of loose
morals. ... To found a state, the Christianity of
Penn and of Washington is a better cement than the
philosophy of Vergniaud, of Robespierre, and of Mirabeau.
Without passing judgment on the two doctrines
one can gauge the results they have produced. . . .
" Nearly all the French writers have exalted the
Renaissance at the expense of the Reformation,
because by a larger breadth of view it brought
humanity a more complete enfranchisement. But
facts do not support their opinion. The countries
which accepted the Reformation are decidedly in
advance of those which stopped short at the Renais
sance. This is because the Reformation contained a
moral force which was wanting in the Renaissance.
And moral force is, with science, the fountain-head of
a nation's prosperity. The Renaissance was a return
to antiquity, the Reformation a return to the Gospel,
and the Gospel being superior to ancient tradition
was to produce better fruit." 1
And further on, when dealing with the question of
faith and religious practice, M. de Laveleye adds :
" Another reason for the inferiority of Catholic people
is that the religious sentiment is much less in the
intelligent and higher classes than in Protestant
countries." Here are the reasons which he gives:
" The excess of superstition leads inevitably to in
credulity. . . . Catholicism engenders such complete
indifference with regard to religious matters that even
the strength to frankly leave the Church is wanting.
One sees Protestants become Catholics because con
serving some faith they seek the true worship and
believe that Rome offers it to them. Very few
Catholics become Protestants either because they
1 De Laveleye, pp. 12-15. We quote from the pamphlet.
30th edition, 1876.
have become very hostile or indifferent to re
We might challenge one by one each of the
assertions, each of the oracles that M. de Laveleye
enunciates with so much assurance. We will grant
him without difficulty that morality and religious
sentiment are the two greatest forces and the
strongest supports of a nation ; we will not deny
the superiority of the Gospel to antiquity, nor even
that of the Reformation to the Renaissance, but we
might ask him if German and English literature were
not already characterised by a severer element than
ours at the time when England and Germany were
Catholic like France ; if in our own literature he has
not been pleased to confine himself to one vein, out
side religious literature, the Gallic and Rabelaisian
vein ; if the literature of the most Catholic nation in
Europe, namely Spain, is frivolous and demoralising ;
whether, nearer home, the strict Protestants have
joined and still do join the ranks of the moral free
thinkerseven freemasons, to combat religion, and
at the same time morals (because with us religion is
Catholicism) ; if the English Puritans whom he exalts
and who, narrow-minded fanatics that they were,
deemed worthy of death all those who were not saints
after their own fashion, were not precisely those who
engendered the sceptical and libertine generation of
the Stuart Restoration ? M. de Laveleye is pleased
to compare the Republican Milton with the absolutist
Bossuet, but he forgets one thing, namely, that the
absolutist Bossuet only took and applied to Catholicism
the theories of the Anglican bishops of James and of
Charles I. on the divine right of kings. It is per
fectly true that the Christianity of Penn and of
Washington is a better cement wherewith to found
a state than the philosophy of French revolutionaries.
But would M. de Laveleye tell us whence came the
philosophy of the French revolutionaries ? Was it
not that of the " philosopher of Geneva " ? And was
not the philosophy of Rousseau closely allied to that
of Protestantism ? I might continue, but I prefer to
waive discussions of details and to seek evidence from
facts. As I cannot take all history, I will take, if it
pleases you, two epochsthat which immediately
followed the Reformation so that you may consider
it in the flower of its first virtue and the contemporary
times when its principles have all borne fruit.

In his exaggerated way Luther declared that before
himself no one had had the least notion of religion or
even of the simplest duties of life : " I do not fear to
say that if all these Papists who fatigue us so with
their writings were heaped up, melted, and distilled
seven times not the seventh part of a tongue would
remain capable of explaining to us even one of these
articles ! (Jesus Christ, Baptism, etc.). To teach us,
for exampleI will not say what a prince ought to
be to his subjectsbut only the manner in which a
servant should behave to her mistress or a man-servant
to his master."
Luther preached his doctrine, which was accepted
by the larger part of Germany. Henceforth, no
doubt, each knows his duty and accomplishes it as
far as human strength allows. Let us listen to
Luther's contemporaries.
First comes Erasmus, who had been the herald of
the reformer, who had applauded his beginnings but
who had separated from him when he had seen the
results obtained by his doctrine of bondage of the
will (determinism) and of faith without works. One
day Erasmus wrote to Melanchthon, with whom he
had kept on friendly terms : " What is there more de
testable in the world than to expose ignorant people to
hear public discussions on such subjects as good works,
merits, good resolutions, pure heresies, and to profess
that our will is not free, that all happens necessarily,
fatally, and that it does not much matter what are or
may be a man's actions ? "
The preaching of such ideas, taken literally by the
masses, could only lead to the most dangerous conse
quences. " I see," again writes Erasmus to the
Duke of Saxony, " a new race arise beyond the
Gospels, a race which is insolent, insubordinate, and
without shame, which will end by becoming a burden
to Luther himself." '
In a letter addressed to the doctor of the Arch
bishop of Mainz, Heinrich Stromner, he describes
the character of the sect more fully. "The new
Gospel has at least the advantage of showing us a
new race of man, haughty, impudent, cunning, and
blasphemous, divided among themselves, quarrellers,
seditious, furious, and who, to speak frankly, I have
so great an antipathy to that if I knew a place in the
world free of them I would not hesitate to take
refuge therein." 2
In another letter, written to Bucer, the ex-
Dominican, then the head of the reformation at
Strasbourg, Erasmus gave the following description
of the fruits borne by the independence of certain
spirits with regard to the Church and its Laws.
" Those who boast that they have thrown off the mask
of the Pharisee, who reject every episcopal command
1 Erasmus, Ep. L. xix. p. 604 ; Doellinger, vol. i. p. 12.
2 Erasmus, Ep. L. xviii. p. 503, quoted by Doellinger, La Refarmtfjsttc,
tol. i. p. 12.
and the abstinence ordered by the Church now pray
not at all, are worse and more hypocritical than
before, and do not obey even the commandments
of God, but have become the slaves of their belly
and their passions." 1
Take notice that the contempt of outward
ceremonies has led to the abandonment of prayer, and
disobedience to the commandments of the Church,
has brought about forgetfulness of the command
ments of God.
In a writing entitled : " Against those who vainly
boast they are evangelical" (Contre ceux qui se
vantent faussement d'etre evangeliques) Erasmus
shows still more clearly how the theory was practically
interpreted by the people. ..." Auricular confession
is no longer practised, with the result that most
people do not even confess to God. Fasting and
abstinence are quite discarded ; but drunkenness is
become so much more frequent that many have only
escaped Judaism to fall into sensuality. . . . Can it
be only by chance that I have not met a single one of
these new evangelicals who does not seem worse than
before he belonged to this new sect ? " 2
Let us admit that luck was hard on Erasmus or
that he saw with prejudiced eyes, and let us question
other witnesses.
George Wizel was born at Bach in Hesse, he took
his M.A. degree at Erfurt, finished his studies at
Wittenberg, was ordained priest, fulfilled the duties
of vicar of this parish, and declared himself one of
the most ardent partisans of the Lutheran doctrines.
He married, and was successively pastor of two
1 Works of Erasmus, Lyons ed., vol. iii. p. 1030.
2 Opera, vol. x. pp. 1578-1582 ; Doellinger, vol. i. pp. 15, 17.
However, at the end of six years Wizel left the new
church, and then began for him a career of vicissitudes,
trials, and persecutions which ended only with his
death. Luther, Justus Jonas, Melanchthon, and the
other chiefs of the Reformation followed with bitterest
hatred the man whom they accused of being a deserter
and whose evidence against the Reformation was all
the more overwhelming because he had given it the
most implicit guarantees of adherence.
What then were the reasons for which Wizel left
First of all, and this reason is a remarkable one,
because he had the courage and the loyalty to submit
the teachings of Luther to a serious study and a pro
found comparison with the Fathers : " I left my
country," he said in one of his letters, " for the New
Gospel, which I loved to madness. However, the
more I set myself to examine thoroughly into the
doctrine the less able I found its foundations (Quo
altius descendi, hoc minus probatam sectam invent).
The study of the Fathers brought me back to the
Mother Church although she was not yet purged of
her dross." 1
And he recommends all Lutherans to read the
same Fathers, persuaded that they in their turn
would be enlightened and would follow his example,
and this is in reality what happened to most of those
who had the courage to undertake this work.
It is true that Luther had previously denied this
tribunal of the Fathers, on whom he pours every
opprobrium, a fact much to his discredit.2 The firm
1 Wicelii epistolarum libri, iv. Leipzig, 1527. Hh. 6, quoted by
Doellinger, vol. i. p. 23.
2 On the judgments of Luther against the Fathers, cf. Doellinger,
vol. i. p. 455 xaq.
belief that the new Christianity of Luther had only
served to corrupt morals caused still more serious
reflections. He wrote to a friend in 1532 : " Since
more than six years ago many things, but especially
moral matters, began to displease me in the Evan
gelical Church ... I said nothing which could please
honest minds, but the most holy things were treated
like children's toys, without reverence, fear, or serious
ness ; from one day to another one human institution
was followed by another, and nowhere was the least
good result to be seen from abandoning religious
ceremonies." *
And in his Apology, in which in 1533 he explains
the motives for which he quitted the Evangelical
Church, he adds : " The more casual and worldly one
is, the more is one attracted by this sect, which
permits the old Adam to do all those things which
would be considered grave sin in the old Church." 2
" Is it not true that they attach no importance to
the sins of their listeners ? According to them evil is
not to be imputed to him who believes. Do they not
publish everywhere that no sin, except unbelief, is a
cause of damnation to man ? 8
" These poisoned doctrines :that works are nothing
in the eyes of God, that sin is not imputed to him
who has faiththese doctrines have infected us with
their fatal poison."
" The love of good living, the desire for wine and
debauchery has gone so far that it has ceased to be
regarded as reprehensible. It is true that preachers
sometimes speak against drunkenness, but unfortun
ately they themselves are the greatest drunkards."
1 Epist. to K. K. Q. a. b. Doellinger, vol. i. p. 29.
2 L. c. B. 8, b. Doellinger, vol. i. p. 55.
s L. c. T. 4, a. Doellinger, vol. i. p. 56.
" Do you wish to scare away your audience ? Speak
to them of the necessity of good works. Do you, on
the contrary, wish to attract a crowd ? Rail against
these same works, against those who recommend them,
and against those who practise them, accompanying
your words with the epithets usually used by the
Lutheranshypocrites, antichrist, reprobates, blind,
idolators, and others similar. How hide the great
harm done to Christianity ? How deny it, how
justify it?"
" Oh ! the cunning sermon in which it is advised not
to fast, not to confess, and not to be charitable !
Here is something to ensnare two Germans instead
of one. It is easy to catch people if their desires are
so promptly satisfied ! "
" Since the birth of Christ there have not been seen
so many divorces and separations as during the fifteen
years of Luther's government. . . . The table, the
bed, the cash-box, constitute the Trinity which reigns
It is very evident that the people had taken Luther's
doctrine with regard to works in its grossest sense.
" What ! " say the new evangelicals, " do they wish
me to return to good works ? What have we
Christians to do with that ? What good are works ?
Did not Christ on the Cross do enough ? If works
are necessary it was useless for Christ to die on the
Cross. If God will demand an account of what I
have done then Jesus Christ has not satisfied divine
justice." Such are the words which greatly flatter
the people, and which penetrate so deeply into their
minds that it would be difficult to efface them. There
are some who would be fearful of sinning against the
1 These different passages are quoted in Doellinger, vol. i.
pp. 53-9.
blood of our Lord if they allowed themselves to
perform a good action in view of salvation, so strongly
are they imbued with these principles of their Master
that good works are worth nothing, that they are but
sin and impurity, an injury done to the blood of Jesus
Christ, a denial of the Gospels, a practice incompatible
with faith.
"May God preserve us from a justification pro
ducing such fruits and from a religion which makes
such Christians, who are more dangerous than Turks
or Tartars." *
One may perhaps refuse the evidence of Wizel
on the pretext that he is a discontented man who
wished to justify his defection by calumniating
But here is another victim of Luther's seductions
who lived in another part of the country, and who,
also applying the evangelical criterion to the Apostles
of Lutheranism, ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos,
left the sect full of regret that he had ever belonged
to it.
This third witness is Willibald Pirkheimer, senator
and councillor of the town of Nuremberg, who was
surnamed, said Doellinger, the Xenophon of Nurem
berg because of his vast learning, his prudence, his
rare powers of speech, and because of the military
glory which he had acquired as a general in the
service of Maximilian I.
One may judge with what enthusiasm he declared
for the Reformation by the loud praises he bestowed
on the doctors of Wittenberg. " The first," he an
nounced, " who, after so many centuries, had dared
raise their eyes to the light." Pirkheimer himself
wrote to Pope Adrian VI. to defend Luther, whom
1 Doellinger, vol. i. pp. 64-73.
he termed "an excellent man and one full of
knowledge." *
Since 1524 the greater part of the inhabitants of
Nuremberg had embraced the Lutheran beliefs, and
already three years afterwards Pirkheimer is deploring
the moral and religious state produced by the new
theology : in 1527 he wrote to Vitus Beld : " The
Gospel seems to have no other end for these people
than to mask their carnal passions."
But it is especially in a letter written in 1528 to
the architect Tchertte of Vienna that Pirkheimer
describes in a still more striking manner the moral
consequences of Lutheranism. " I admit," he says,
" that in the beginning I was a staunch partisan of
the Lutheran cause ; I hoped by its means to see the
bare-faced licentiousness of Rome and the knavery of
its priests and monks suppressed. But our hopes
have not been fulfilled, indeed things have come to
such a pass that those things which scandalised us
formerly now seem saintly in comparison with the
evangelical licence. . . . One may easily be convinced
by the behaviour of these pretended evangelicals
that they have no real faith, no loyalty, no fear of
God, no charity, no modesty, no morals, no taste
for study or for art. As to alms-giving, there is no
further question of it or of penance. What would
you say if you knew the things that happen with
regard to marriage ? Were it not for the civil laws
we should soon be, with regard to women, like Plato's
Republic, that is in full promiscuousness. . . . Whilst
we were in danger of the Turks it was decided to
chant a litany in the chapels ; but now that we have
been delivered from our enemy we have hastily dis
pensed with the prayer."
1 See Doellinger, vol. i. p. 156 sqq.
And as if to add further weight to this evidence
Pirkheimer, who only re-entered the Catholic fold
later, added : " If I ask you for news it is not, believe
me, in the least because I have any desire to become
the champion of papacy or of monks." *
Ulrich Zasius, a lawyer of Fribourg, with whom
Pirkheimer corresponded in a friendly way, had also
declared in favour of Luther in the beginning. He
wrote in 1519 that " all that came to him from
Luther, he received as if from an angel."
In a letter addressed to Luther himself, he called
him " the phoenix of theologians, the glory of the
Christian world." He had especially pronounced in
favour of determinism ( = unfree will) and the worthlessness
of good works.
But he also was quickly disenchanted, and soon
Zasius made a public speech in the University of
Fribourg directed entirely against Luther, "the
author of a detestable sect." *
Let us now examine other witnesses who remained
Lutheran and who, one would have thought, would
have been impelled by shame or by expediency to
keep silence on the shame of their Church. They
are very numerous.
There is Amsdorf for one, the theologian of
Wittenberg, whom Luther had conceived the
idea of making a bishop, and who had undergone
the mock solemnity of a false consecration. He
assures us "that Germany is as it were drowned
in gluttony, drunkenness, avarice, and luxury,
and that the Lutherans have really no respect
for the Gospels, that they despise it as much as
1 Quoted by Doellinger, vol. i. pp. 162, 165.
s Cf. Doellinger, vol. i. pp. 169-177, and Janssen, vol. ii.
p. 180, sqq.
anyone in the world, that they insult and dishonour
Christopher Fischer, the general superintendent of
Smalkalden, deplores the fact that the Lutherans
take the Christian liberty preached to them in an
entirely carnal sense, and under pretext that it is not
by our own merits but by the sole effect of divine
grace that we can be saved, they refuse to do good
works and each one sins more than the other ;
" doubtless," he adds, " with the one idea of render
ing grace more efficacious and more abundant."
Jacob Andreae, canon and chancellor at Tubingen,
does not fear to avow that " as the doctrine was
preached the ancient virtues vanished and a crowd
of new vices appeared in the world."
He too is not mistaken as to the logical bond
between this immorality and the fundamental prin
ciples of Lutheran doctrines : " If one speaks to our
Lutherans," he says, " of the serious and Christian
discipline so earnestly recommended us by God and
which he asks of every Christian, they regard it as
new popery and new monasticism. We have been
taught, they say, that faith alone can save us, the
faith of Jesus Christ, who in dying for us satisfied
completely for our sins. As fasting, alms-giving,
and prayer cannot justify us, do not speak to us of
these good works, we expect our salvation from Jesus
Christ alone, we rely only on His merits and on the
grace of which He is the source. And in order that
the whole world may know that they are not papists
and that they have no confidence in good works they
are careful not to perform any. Instead of fasting
they eat and drink day and night ; instead of help
ing the poor they rob them ; instead of praying they
1 Quoted by Doellinger, vol. ii. p. 119.
blaspheme and dishonour Jesus Christ in a way that
even the Turks would not have dared to do ; finally,
instead of Christian humility, pride and the love of
display is in their hearts. Such are the morals of our
evangelicals ; and these good people still boast that
they have faith and that they believe better than the
idolatrous papists." 1
These painful revelations were written in 1567,
which show how, more than twenty years after
Luther's death, the great mass of German Protestants
practically interpreted the new Gospels.
Capito and Bucer, the introducers of the leaders
of the Reformation into Strasbourg, tell us, first
Capito, "that consciences are in a no better state
under this rule, stripped of all discipline, than they
were formerly under the sway of a purely exterior
religion." 2 And the other, Bucer, " that corruption
made further strides every day in the evangelical
church ; that in this church, impurity is assured to
the gravest faults ; that the respect formerly given
to Catholic priests has given place to the contempt
for pastors and their words ; that the greater number
of Lutherans abstain entirely from the Lord's Supper ;
that the vast majority of those who embraced the
Reformation did so so as to give a free rein to their
carnal passions, and that it was a very pleasant thing
for them to hear it said that faith was sufficient for
justification, etc." 8
Finally, Melanchthon himself adds the authority
of his words to all this evidence already so conclusive.
Melanchthon had written this letter inserted in the
Corpus reformatorum : " Let us continue to employ
this philosophy which you and I have so long
1 Quoted by Doellinger, vol. ii. p. 365.
2 Doellinger, vol. ii. pp. 14-16. 3 Ibid. p. 25.
practised, and in order to hide the fresh wounds
which have lately been brought to our notice let
us persuade others to help us in keeping them
secret." *
But there are times when the philosophy of
Melanchthon is overcome by moments of sadness and
of fresh evidence, and the most painful avowals are
drawn from him. Not only does he say " that all
the waters of the Elbe would not be sufficient for
him to weep over the evils of the Reformation,"
but he enters into overwhelming details.
Thus in 1545 he ranges the Lutherans into four
classes : " The first comprises those who love the
Gospels with a natural affection ; who hate the fetters
imposed on the passions by the laws and practices
of the Church and who strongly approve, on the
contrary, of the relaxation of discipline. These are
attached to the Gospel by a blind love, because they
are persuaded that it is the surest and shortest road
to reach entire licence. To this class belong in
general the common people, who understand neither
the fundamental principles of doctrine nor the
reasons for all our discussions, and who, on seeing
the developments of the Gospel, show about as much
interest as a cow when a new door is put up in its
" The second class is composed of nobles and dis
tinguished peoplethat is to say, of people who have
a talent for moulding their religious convictions
according to the inclinations and preferences of the
governing power. There are nowadays in the princely
courts a great number of these individuals, who adopt
such or such a religion not because they are led by
conviction but solely because by doing otherwise
1 T. V. p. 218.
they would fear to offend the princes to whom they
pay court
"Those of the third class affect the exteriors of
a rare zeal and piety, but under cover of the ap
pearances with which they hide their real nature
they seek to satisfy their unruly appetites and their
carnal passions. In this category are to be found
a great number of quite praiseworthy people.
" Finally, in the fourth class are the elect, un
fortunately in very small numbers."1
It was Melanchthon who a short time before his
death wrote that " to shed tears was the only thing
that theologians could possibly do under existing
circumstance in the interest of their cause."2
And finally there is Luther himself, whose avowals
are numberless. Already in 1525 he began to com
One reads in his Commentary on Deuteronomy :
" There is not one of our evangelicals who is not
seven times worse than before he belonged to us,
stealing the goods of others, lying, deceiving, eat
ing, getting drunk, and indulging in every vice as
if they had not received the Holy Word. If we
have been delivered from one spirit of evil, seven
others worse than the first have come to take its
And again : " The more the Gospel is preached the
worse things become. . . . Those who become evan
gelicals become more corrupt than they were before.
Every day we unhappily experience that the men who
live under our Gospel are more uncharitable, more
1 Corpus reformatorum, vol. v. pp. 725-726. See a great number
of quotations made by Doellinger, vol. i. p. 351 sqq.
s Corpus reformatorum, vol. ix. p. 1056 ; Doellinger, p. 394.
8 Ed. Walch, vol. iii. 2727.
irascible, more greedy, more avaricious than they were
before as papists."1
In 1531 and 1538 he declares that he would never
have begun to preach if he had foreseen so many
calamities, scandals, and impieties, and in his Com
mentary on the Gospel of St John he says : " I have
often had the thought of giving up the Gospels, for
so far it has but served to make people more and
more cunning and more perverse." ?
Moreover, how could the faithful Lutherans have
reproduced the virtues of the primitive Church being
led and instructed by pastors of whom Luther said
in his Commentary on the Prophets there were few
who "knew perfectly the commandments of God,
the Apostles' Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, or who
were in a state to teach the poor people well " ; . . .
" people who are very able in inveighing against the
pope, the monks, and the priests, but who know not
what to say when it comes to developing the prin
ciples which are to overcome papism and all its
errors." *
His friend and disciple Mathesius in the Life of
Luther which he wrote 4 affirms that in 1539 Luther
complained bitterly of the conduct of the pastors,
and declared that he would be obliged to solicit the
establishment of an ecclesiastical prison so as to
reform these violent and undisciplined men whom
the Gospel was not capable of recalling to duty.
And in 1543, that is to say three years before his
death, he said to another friend, Spangenberg, that
" out of 1500 to 2000 students, the most of them being
theological candidates, who were at the University of
1 Ed. Walch, vol. xiii. 2193. 2 Ibid.yol vii. 2467.
Ibid. vol. vi. S294.
* Folio 118. Doellinger, vol. i. p. 288.
Wittenberg, there were hardly two or three men
worthy of recommendation ! " 1
Thus the universal contempt of Lutherans for their
pastors was one of the most evident results of the
Reformation and one of Luther's liveliest grievances
against the Germans.
" The peasants as well as the townspeople and the
upper classes boast that they can do without ministers.
They say that they would rather be deprived of God's
Word than be charged with a useless man I " * . . .
" A poor village pastor is nowadays the most despised
man on earth ; there is not a low-born peasant who
does not think he has the right to tread him under
foot."8 . . . " It might be said that word had been
given to starve all the ministers of the Gospel . . .
so much bad will is shown by everybody." 4
As to the frequenting of the Lord's Supper, Luther
had counted on making it much easier for the new
Church by suppressing the scrupulous preparation
required by the Catholic Church, and which he
declared only served to trouble consciences. He
said that in the Roman Church this amiable and
delicious Sacrament had been spoilt by mixing there
with gall and vinegar (that is to say by obliging
Christians to confess and amend) ; that Catholic
preachers spoke in such a way of the purity of
conscience requisite to communicate worthily that
people only approached this Sacrament in fear and
trembling, and that they feared to eat the body of
our Lord as they would to swallow arsenic.5
1 Quoted by Doellinger, ibid.
2 Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians, ed. Walch, vol.
viii. 1290.
3 Commentary on Psalm xlv., ed. Walch, vol. v. 577.
4 Commentary on the Prophets, ed. Walch, vol. vi. 967.
6 Doellinger^vol. i. pp. 323-4.
In his eyes the Eucharist was a guarantee of the
remission of sin, and it was necessary to have the
consciousness of one's faults to approach without fear.
This is how, according to Luther himself, this
Sacrament was frequented by the Lutherans.
" The Sacrament of the altar is so neglected and so
little esteemed that there is nothing judged to be less
necessary." 1
" When the Roman Church imposed this Sacra
ment on us as of obligation people went in crowds ;
nowadays we behave in so disgusting a manner that
one would hardly believe that we are men, much less
This is not all, not only did Luther see the im
mediate results of the preaching of his doctrine on
the religion and morality of the Germans, but he
saw, like many others, the logical relation between
this depravity of morals and the fundamental principles
of his dogma, and this is the point which it is most
important to bring into evidence.
" When the word of God was preached for the first
time twelve or fifteen years ago people came from
all parts to hear it ; all were delighted at having to
trouble no more about good works. . . . But the
majority see no further advantage in the possession
of the Gospel than the faculty it gives them to abstain
from fasting and prayer."8
" As soon as they hear the word liberty they can
speak of nothing else and use it as an excuse to refuse
the accomplishment of all kinds of duties. If I am
free, say they, I can do what I like, and if I am not
saved by good works, why should I trouble to impose
1 Catechist. Schrifl, ed. Walch, vol. x. 2666.
* Ibid. 2715.
8 Commentary on Saint John's Gospel, ed. Walch, vol. vi. 2318.
privations on myself to give, for example, alms to the
poor ? If they do not say this in so many words, at
anyrate all their actions show that such is their secret
" Because of the propagation of the Gospel the
peasants have descended to such a degree of licentious
ness that there is hardly anything they do not believe
they may do. They no longer fear hell or purgatory,
they are proud, gross, insolent, and greedy. We
have faith, they say, that ought to be sufficient."2
" Imagine a law which ordains in everything and
everywhere the contrary of the ten commandments of
God ; and you will have just the law which seems to
be regulating the world."8
Here, then, we have the Lutheran reformation
judged by itself. This is how in the second half of
the sixteenth century the great religious movement
ended which had raised so many hopes !
Is it a matter for surprise when the very leaders of
the German Protestantism, Luther, Melanchthon, and
Bucer, by a scandal which had nothing in common
with even the most reprehensible weaknesses of such
or such a Catholic pontiff, had authorised that de
rogation of principle from the moral law, namely the
bigamy of the landgrave of Hesse ?
And now let us pass over three centuries. Let us
visit the Germany, England, and America of to-day.
We are told that Protestant nations are nowadays more
moral and more religious than Catholic nations. Alas !
I cannot pretend that Catholic nations, especially those
where freemasonry is rampant, are all that they ought
1 Commentary on the Ep. to the Galatians, ed. Walch, vol. viii. 2689.
* Tischreden, ed. Walch, xxii. 812.
8 Ibid, 603.
to be. But let us confine ourselves to Protestant
states ; this is what we are told by the most impartial
" In general," writes M. Goyau, " in Protestant
Germany, the towns and their rural suburbs have
become, according to an expression familiar to certain
pastors, spiritual graveyards. Throughout the world
Berlin is looked upon as the type of that city which
Plutarch declared to be impossible, an atheistic city.
This reputation has not been usurped.
" About 1880, the impiety in Berlin reached strange
limits. At this date according to the official statistics
of the Evangelical Conference of Eisenach, 26 per
cent, of the Protestant children were not baptised ;
59 per cent, of the marriages and 80 per cent, of the
burials were purely civil. Out of 100 members of the
Evangelical Church 13 communicants were counted,
and only 10 per cent, took the trouble to take part
in the municipal elections." 1
The middle class is completely incredulous and
only keeps up a certain appearance of religious observ
ance from a sense of the outward fitness of things.
It is admirably served by pastors who are thorough
men of the world and who detest doctrinal strictness
more than anyone else.2
The socialistic masses of the people are not less
sarcastic or less malignant towards the Church than
with us. When, in 1878, the Pastor Stoecker came
forward at a popular meeting, the socialist Most called
out that "priests who drank wine and counselled
water had only to settle their accounts with Heaven
and that the world would soon be well rid of them."
The principal collaborator of Stoecker, Wangemann,
1 G. Goyau, tAllemagne religieuse, le Protestantisme, p. 39-
8 Ibid. p. 42.
was hailed at a meeting of women socialists by a
general uproar and cries of " Massenaustritt aus der
Kirche ! " " Let us leave the Church in a body ! " *
The great majority of the Berlin workpeople are
atheists, and the same is to be found in nearly all the
big towns of the Empire.
Even in the country districts, if there are, as with
us, some parts where faith remains, there are also
many districts where religious indifference is rampant.
For example in Mecklemburg out of a hundred
registered faithful the pastor gets about ten in his
"A Berlin professor," writes M. Goyau, " assured
me that he knew from personal experience of the
diminution of domestic piety in various Prussian
districts. One no longer expects to hear in the
highways and byways the echoes of some Bible
reading or psalm singing or of any of those old
familiar exercises by which Protestant families were
wont to raise their hearts to God." 2
Formerly every Protestant gloried in the Bible;
he read Luther's translation, which has since fallen
into disrepute because of its errors and contradictions.
Nowadays, according to Paul de Lagarde, who wrote
in 1890, there are but a few scrappy fragments known
to the faithful, and M. Gebhardt tells us that in
Thuringia the peasants are sufficiently familiar with
the Bible to be able to borrow therefrom matter for
witticism, and that those who wish to be edified read
their book of chants, which is a collection authorised
by the ecclesiastical authorities and a paraphrase of
divine teaching. This kind of common prayer-book
has taken the place of the sacred writings. " There
1 G. Goyau, VAllemagne religieuse, le ProtestatUume, p. 205.
* Ibid. p. 46.
is no longer existing that close bond which formerly
bound the consciences of the pastor and of the faithful
namely, the bond of a common familiarity with
In Brunswick the indifference borders on impiety
and even on immorality. In the best parish, accord
ing to Pastor Kiihne, only twenty per cent, of those
engaged remain virtuous until their marriage. Ac
cording to the acknowledgment of a great number
of pastors the practice of religion, where it does
exist, is almost entirely exterior and has no influence
over morals. Messrs Huckstaed and Wittenberg,
evangelical ministers, who recently made inquiries
on the morality of certain districts in Prussia and
Saxony, deplore this lamentable fact : " In the dis
tricts which are the most churchy (kirchlich)," they say,
" immorality is as great or almost as great as in those
parts which are not churchy." And more than fifteen
hundred rural pastors of the Evangelical Church sent
information and statistics to the directors of the
inquiry ! 2
" Indifference spreads and increases ; hostility be
gins." Thus does M. Gebhardt define the attitude
of the Thuringian peasants with regard to the Church.
"This definition," adds M. Goyan, "is very suit
able to the whole of the Protestant party of North
Germany." 8
"The Church of the Reformation," writes the
Pastor Stoecker, "has, in many respects, remained
without a creed, without faith, without energy, with
out defence. She has lost the upper classes, the
bourgeois, the artisans in the towns, and even many
of the country peasants." 4
1 Goyau, VAllemagne religieuse, pp. 303-305. 2 Ibid. pp. 47-48.
8 Quoted by Goyau, pp. 309-310. * Ibid. p. 298.
" The indifference of many circles, and those not
always the worst, with regard to the Evangelical
Church, results from the little confidence placed in
her for the moral healthiness of the people," says
Superintendent Gallwitz.1
And the Pastor Herman Gebhardt writes : " The
dogma and morals of the peasant are very far from
coinciding with the teaching of the Church ; everyone
allows himself to believe and to act as he thinks fit" *
In presence of such general incredulity the
preachers turn to moral themes ; but, if we believe
M. Gerade, " those moral lessons which once a
prince would have accepted humbly are now looked
upon as impertinent by a cobbler."8
And this is how they take it, we are told, by the
Pastor Gebhardt and the Superintendent Gallwitz :
" In many rural communities where a deplorable
moral state reigns, the members of the community
notice with satisfaction that on certain days they
get it hot. This does not make them desire to
better their ways, but they feel a certain satisfaction
and somewhat relieved of their responsibilities after
such a sermon and they even praise the preacher's
What now remains of the Lutheran doctrines is
on the one hand the consciousness of personal unworthiness,
and on the other confidence in the im
measurable greatness of the merits of Jesus Christ.
Personal effort is put in the background, and the
preacher who alludes to it is not regarded favourably.6
The pastor cannot reach the soul beyond the veil
because he has not, like the Catholic priest, the
1 Quoted by Goyau, p. 300.
1 Ibid. p. 303. Ibid, p ' '
4 See Goyau, p. 305, note 3. * IN '%.
help of the confession which is made at least once
a year.
The judgment passed by the Bishop of Osnabriick
in his report to the Congregation of the Propaganda
in 1888 on the state of Protestantism in the northern
districts is that " the non-Catholics who dwell in
these districts have for the most part so completely
rejected positive faith that they are no longer Christain
except in name."
In a word it is the portrait of our most indifferent
Among the factors which are the most sure tests
of a nation's morality one must count the birth-rate
(and coefficient with birth-rate the number of illegiti
mate births), divorces, suicides, and crime.
Taken as a whole, in these last years, Germany's
birth-rate reaches the figure of 35 to 37*5 in a 1000,
and it is in the districts where Catholicism is domin
ant that the birth-rate is highest. Thus the Rhenish
Provinces give 41*5 ; Westphalia, 43 ; Polish Prussia,
42*5 ; Protestant Hesse, 34 ; Wurtemburg, 35. Of
illegitimate births from 1882 to 1894 all Germany
counts 9*31 out of every 100 legitimate. Since 1900
the number has constantly dropped : 8*7 in 1900 ;
86 in 1901 ; 8'5 in 1902 ; to-day Silesia counts 1341 ;
Bavaria, 14 ; Mecklemburg, 13*9 ; Protestant Prussia,
8-10 ; Saxony, 12-5 ; Catholic Westphalia, 37 ; the
Catholic Rhenish Provinces, 2 6 ; Wurtemburg, 10 2 ;
Baden, 8*4 ; Oldenburg, 5-56, etc.1
Divorce, which is a Protestant institution, flourishes
among Protestants ; the average of divorces in Prussia
1 These figures are taken from the Annual Statistics of the
German Empire partly republished in the Eclair of 17th September
1904, and from de Krose in " der Einfluss der Confession auf die
Sittlichkeit, nach der Ergebnissen der Statishk." Fribourg, 1900.
is 1 out of every 61 marriages, whilst in Bavaria it
is only 1 out of every 238.
Suicides are also much less numerous in Catholic
countries. Between 1881 and 1890 the statistics
are as follows for every 100,000 inhabitants :Saxony,
35, at present day, 39*2 ; in Prussia, 20, at present
day, 16 "6 ; in Baden, 19*2 ; in Wurtemburg, 16, at
present, 19*8 ; in Bavaria, 13*7.
Then there is crime. Between 1882 and 1891
for every 100,000 persons innocent of crime there
were in Prussia, where the Protestants make up
nearly 64 per cent. of the population, 0*08 con
demned for murder or homicide ; in Saxony, where
the percentage of Protestants is nearly 95, there were
0*09 ; in Wurtemburg, 69 per cent., Protestants, 0*13 ;
in Bavaria, where Catholics are more than 70 per
cent., 0*12 ; in Baden, where there are 60*58 Catholics
to 37*69 Protestants, 0*06 ; in Rhenish Prussia, where
Catholics amount to as many as 70 per cent., 0*06 ;
in Brandenburg, where Protestants reach to 94 per
cent., 0*07. For blows and light hurts : in Prussia,
6*8 ; in Saxony, 1*5 ; in Wurtemburg, 2*3 ; in Bavaria,
8*2 ; in Baden, 2*4 ; in Rhenish Prussia, 4*8 ; in
Brandenburg, 6*4. For serious hurts: in Prussia,
15*3; in Saxony, 7'9; in Wurtemburg, 13; in
Bavaria, 28*7 ; in Baden, 24*1 ; in the Rhenish
Provinces, 14*8; in Brandenburg, 13. For injuries:
in Prussia, 12*9 ; in Saxony, 12*8 ; in Wurtemburg,
15*9 ; in Bavaria, 16*2 ; in Baden, 9 ; in Rhenish
Prussia, 8*7 ; in Brandenburg, 15. For theft by
force : in Prussia, 0*15 ; in Saxony, 0*07 ; in Wurtem
burg, 0*13 ; in Bavaria, 0*13 ; in Baden, 0*06 ; in
Rhenish Prussia, 0*10 ; in Brandenburg, 0*12. For
simple theft: in Prussia, 29*8; in Saxony, 31*6; in
Wurtemburg, 22*1 ; in Bavaria, 28*9 ; at Baden,
24*1 ; in Rhenish Prussia, 15*2 ; in Brandenburg,
27*2. For false witness : in Prussia, 0*90 ; in Saxony,
133; in Wurtemburg, 19; in Bavaria, 1*08; at
Baden, 1*14; in Rhenish Prussia, 079; in Branden
burg, 066. For arson : in Prussia, 0'17 ; in Saxony,
0*21 ; in Wurtemburg, 0*25 ; in Bavaria, 0'14 ; at
Baden, 0*12 ; in Rhenish Prussia, 0*05 ; in Branden
burg, 0*18. For seduction and rape : in Prussia,
083; in Saxony, 1*19; in Wurtemburg, 1*23 ; in
Bavaria, 1 -07 ; at Baden, 1 "45 ; in Rhenish Prussia,
0*94 ; in the Brandenburg, 0*95.
One will be struck by the high figure for crime in
Bavaria, but Catholicism must not be held responsible,
for the duchies of Baden and of Rhenish Prussia,
where Catholics form 60*58 and 70 per cent, re
spectively of the total population, are those where
criminality is at its lowest figure.
It must be attributed to the native coarseness of
the populations of Upper Bavaria and the Palatinate,
where quarrels are very frequent and often end with
serious wounds.
The morality of a people is not determined by
religion alone ; climate, temperament, race, the influ
ence of the government, the mode of education all
count for much.
Thus the Emperor William II., in virtue of convic
tions which are, alas, not shared by our government,
has for ten or twelve years made powerful efforts to
increase morality and the practice of religion, and he
has partially succeeded. Nevertheless this is a matter
of government, it is the re-establishment and legiti
mate usage of the Catholic principle of authority and
not due to any Protestant principle. One has no
right then to affirm the moral and religious superiority
of Protestant populations, at least in Germany. And
consequently, if other Protestant populations are more
religious than even the cradle of the Lutheran refor
mation, this might well be due, whatever M. de
Laveleye says, to other causes than the principles
of Protestantism.
I do not deny the religious spirit of the English,
nor even in a general way of these superior beings,
the Anglo-Saxons, and I congratulate them for having
remained faithful. For they are, to a large extent,
much nearer Catholicism than German Protestants.
Perhaps I might be permitted to point out to M.
Laveleye and others that the very proofs they give
us of this religious spirit are drawn precisely from
those exterior works, for which Catholics were formerly
reproached, not only family prayer, but also going to
church, taking part in public services, fasting, and
observing Sunday scrupulously. But let us pass on.
What they do not show us is the bond between
religious practice and morality, which according to
them is a much closer one with Protestants than
Catholics. We all know what British cant is, and
the kind of homage, so well defined by La Roche
foucauld, that many English Protestants and even
Americans and perhaps French pay to virtue.
However, we must not deceive ourselves ; Puritanism
lived sixty years, and then England under Charles II.
fell morally lower than France under Louis XIV.,
and I do not think there is much to choose between
England under the three Georges and France under
Louis XV. " I much fear," said a Cambridge Pro
fessor of Anglican Theology in 1795, "that Protestant
countries have more to reproach themselves with
than they perhaps think ; for all the impious produc
tions, and many of the immoral books whicv " ~re so
largely contributed in producing the apr '"
days, have been written and printed in Protestant
countries." *
" The population of London," once wrote M. Leon
Faucher, " seems to be both more violent and more
depraved than that of Paris. . . . Every excess which
presupposes unbridled passions have free play there.
Intemperance produces the same results as does a
warm climate elsewhere, and at the same time one
finds the full development of that corruption which
is common to commercial men of unrestrained
character."2 "Who cannot recall to mind the
horrible descriptions of certain quarters of the large
English towns ? What man, well informed on these
subjects, does not know that juvenile crime is worse
than elsewhere ? " Out of respect for my readers I
will only make one allusion to those striking articles,
which are admitted to be absolutely correct, and
which were published after an inquiry organised in
1885, by the director of The Pall Mall Gazette.
Is it not a somewhat dangerous assertion when
we are told that the United States are the model
of virtue, there where the dollar-god reigns side by
side with financial speculation, the passion for luxury
and every comfort ! " The society of the United
States," says Claudio Jannet, "always presents a
different aspect to ours because public opinion con
tinues to stigmatise adultery and does not allow
men to boast of their large fortunes ; did they act
otherwise, they would lose their commercial and
political reputation. Unfortunately under this ex
terior appearance of decency prostitution is carried
on in the large towns to an overwhelming extent ;
1 Quoted in the Quinsaine, l6th July 1899. Article by M. Pra on
M. de Laveleye's pamphlet.
2 Quoted by P. Flamerion, p. 56.
domestic dramas, assassinations, abductions, multiply
in a frightful manner ; for rich people the wateringplaces
are the permanent haunts of the most shame
ful vices. Finally, and this is a sign of the change
taking place in public morals, a scandalous literature
is invading America. Soon there will be no practical
significance in the ideas of marriage, conjugal fidelity,
and adultery, so frequent is divorce. It is a fact
worthy of remark that it is in the Puritan states that
suddenly in the early years of the nineteenth century
there was a kind of epidemic of divorce. The
Western states which offer every facility for divorce
boast of their morality by saying that in Ohio there
is only one divorce out of twenty-four marriages !
It is not a rare thing to see men who marry four
or five wives one after the other.1 In 1901, there
were 61,160 divorces, and 68,499 in 1903 ! "
I have said that I could not, in the little time
at my disposal, make a comparison between Catholic
and Protestant nations. However, I will give some
figures which will help to make a very hasty com
Since secret societies and sects have deliberately
set themselves to destroy Catholic beliefs in France,
demoralisation has been very rapid. From 1816 to
1830 the birth-rate stood at 31 25 on a 1000, which
is a higher figure than in Switzerland, England,
Sweden, and Norway to-day.
Between 1830 and 1840 it fell to 29
1840 1850 27*4
1850 1870 2631
1870 1880 25*3
1880 1900 2115
In the United States for some years a similar ten
1 Quoted by Flamerion. p. 63.
dency has been noticed as in France, the birth-rate
being about 26 or 27 on a 1000; in England too,
but in a less degree, the figures in 1875 being 36, and
in 1898 295.
The birth-rate in Holland figures at 34 ; in Sweden
and Norway, 26*7 ; in Denmark, 30 ; Switzerland,
28*5 ; Belgium rises to 29 in the Flemish Provinces,
the most religious, and drop to 23 in the Walloon
Provinces. Between 1870 and 1876 Italy stood at 36 6.
She has since fallen to 34*9, and even to 33*1 in 1901.
Spain and Austria hold the palm, the former with
38, the latter with 39, which has since dropped to
38 "5. It is the same with our Catholic provinces
as with Catholic countries whether German or Latin.
" If the mental and religious state of Brittany were
widespread since 1871," writes M. Leroy-Beaulieu
in the Economiste franpais of 22nd November 1902,
"we should to-day have 53 million inhabitants in
stead of 38."
The number of illegitimate births has for some
years been rising in France. From 1882 to 1894 it
was lower than in Germany, 8-4 against 9-31, which
has fallen to 8*5, whilst France had risen to 8*76 in
1902. Austria is higher than either with 14*7.
Sweden has 12*7 ; Denmark 10*1 ; Italy has only
7*3 ; Ireland with 2*5 presents the lowest figure ;
while Protestant Scotland rises to 8*4 ; Switzerland
has 4 "6 ; and England 4-5.1
Divorce, which has been introduced into several
Catholic states by the influence of Jews, Protestants,
and freemasons, is but too well acclimatised in our
1 It is known, however, that the number of illegitimate births
is not an absolute test of morality. In very corrupted countries
births are prevented, and children are suppressed by criminal
country. From 1*657 in 1884 we rise to 8*431 in
1902, and now we have fallen lower than Prussia.
Italy, on the contrary, holds firm, and has discouraged
divorce. There are hardly more than 600 separations
annually out of 235,000 marriages.1
Suicides have also become more numerous with
us. Out of every 100,000 inhabitants :
From 1841 to 1845 there were 9 suicides
m 1846 1850 10
But in the countries which have remained really
Catholic they are much less frequent than with the
Protestants. Switzerland counts 22*3, and the pro
portion is much less in the Catholic cantons ; Austria
descends to 16 ; Belgium to 11 ; Italy to 4*5 ; Spain
has hardly any. Some Protestant states also have
very low figures. Sweden, 11*5; England, 8; the
Netherlands, 5-5 ; but Denmark is our equal with
nearly 25*3, while Saxony surpasses us with 39*2.
As to crime, it is very difficult to establish a com
parison because legislations and the ways of appre
ciation differ in various countries. Certain acts are
here qualified as misdemeanours and elsewhere as
crimes. No country in the world has so many
murders as the United States of America, there be
ing 12 for every 100,000 inhabitants, while Italy
averages only 8*14, Spain 4*74, France 1*72, Germany
1*06, and England 0*50; but Great Britain makes
up for it, if one may use the expression, by attempts
on property, there being 2600 convictions out of every
1 See, especially for France, the tables published by M. Fousegrive
in Manage et union libre. Paris, "
1,000,000 inhabitants in England and 4236 for Scot
land, while Italy, for example, has only 2444. Al
ready in 1834 it was reckoned that the thieves in
London raised a compulsory tax of about thirty-four
shillings per head on their co-citizens.
These figures will suffice to show, I hope, that if
the kingdom of evil is, alas, far more widespread than
it ought to be, at anyrate its power is not less, all
other things being equal, in Calvinistic or Lutheran
countries, but sometimes rather greater than in
Catholic countries. The high morality of Protestant
nations is decidedly a fable.

Shall we rejoice over these facts ? No ; we shall
never rejoice over what is, all said and done, a de
feat of the Christian spirit. We will only believe,
and let others believe, that Protestantism has not
borne and does not bear other fruit than that to
which I have had to draw your attention.
It was impossible that the theory of fatalism and
of the inutility of good works for salvation should
not produce such effects ; but it was also impossible
that time should not produce a certain reaction,
theoretical perhaps to a certain extent, but yet above
all practical, which brought about happy contradic
tions between doctrine and conduct.
And this is what happened. In 1530, Melanchthon
himself tried to surreptitiously introduce liberty and
good works into the Lutheran theology. Under
the double influence of the pietism of Spener and
Francke and of the rationalist philosophy they at
length effected their return. From the second half
of the eighteenth century there was in Germany a
Protestant party of elect which was both philanthropic
and mystic. This element has persevered throughout
the nineteenth century and has given rise to many
admirable works like that of the Interior Mission,
the White Cross, and the Blue Cross, works of pre
servation, associations of young people, of young
women in search of situations, nurseries, kinder
gartens, orphanages, professional schools, reforma
tories, homes for epileptics, the outcasts, etc. ; and
all that is true of Germany from this point of view
is true also of the other Protestant states, Great
Britain, Scandinavia, Switzerland, etc.
Also we do not attempt to deny that many in
dividuals lead a very pure and a very fervent Christian
life. In Protestant society, side by side with the
vices which I have had to discover, there is, as in
Catholic societies, much virtue both public and
private. Which of us has not witnessed this fact
in Switzerland, Germany, England, and even France
and has not sometimes felt humiliated in comparing
the paucity of spiritual aids on the one hand and
superabundance of graces on the other by which such
great things might be done ?
To what must be attributed this growth of virtue
which we respectfully and joyfully acknowledge in
our separated brethren when we come across it?
Is it to the Protestant principles of the Reformation ?
Oh no ! For Protestants, as I have already shown,
act in contradiction to these principles. The theo
logian Paul de Lagarde writes somewhat ironically :
" The fundamental doctrine of Luther is so forgotten
that serious Protestant ecclesiastics allow themselves
to be supported in their communities by good works
alone." Besides which the Protestant mystic, who,
as Harnack says, is a Christian personality, always
tends to leave his church.
It must be attributed ther J- the Christian life
left by the Reformation ; to what they possess in
common with us, to that religious sentiment, deeprooted
and intimate which engenders personal union
of the soul with God, a sentiment which is certainly
not more Protestant than Catholic but which is ab
solutely Christian, although too many Catholics think
they can do without it ; to the reading of the Bible
when they have remained faithful to it, for the Bible
has placed them in presence of revealed truthof the
Gospel ; to those hymns so beautiful and penetrat
ing which have kept up religious emotion and often
a real piety in their souls in spite of the natural
aridity of the cult.
Good faith is the second motive which explains the
virtue to be found in the midst of Protestantism.
Most Protestants believe themselves to be in the
right ; God cannot fail to compassionate men who
are blinded by hereditary prejudices and who wish
to serve and who think they are serving Him as He
should be served.
The third reason is the influence of education.
Father Adolphe Perraud, now Cardinal, used to say
at the Sorbonne that, by God's grace there is a great
principle of conservation in the constitution of family
life which is a latent and powerful remedy, prepared
by the wisdom and goodness of God to combat, more
efficaciously than any refutation, the results of
dangerous doctrines.
"Do you believe, for example," he would say,
"that among these new evangelicals who are so
eager to give their passions the benefit of Luther's
principles, there are many fathers of families who
would be so imprudent as to make these same
principles their rule of guidance in the upbringing of
their children ; who would say to their children, ' My
children, so long as you have faith in Christ it matters
little whether you obey or do not obey, do not trouble
to correct your faults or overcome your passions for
faith alone suffices.' "
Do you not think that the straightforward and
sacred instincts of paternity have prevailed against
such deplorable principles and have contributed in a
large measure to correct and lessen the consequences ?
This is not the only point where the essential laws
of family life have obliged and do oblige Protestants
to be happily inconsistent. It is very easy to say
that the Christian has no other master than the Bible
and the Holy Ghost and that there is not and ought
not to be any intermediary between God and the
soul. And yet the religious education of Protestant
children is conducted on exactly the same lines as
that of Catholic childrenthat is, by authority. It
is always a pastor, or a father, or a mother who
teaches. The child does not make its own religion
any more with Protestants than with us, it receives
it. And this religion is received through a tradition
which is respected, from an authority which is revered,
and from a power which is acknowledged.
It is a contradiction with the principle of private
judgment and free examination in the same way that
it is a contradiction to follow after moral good when
believing that man is not a free agent and that good
works are ineffectual. Contradictions doubtless but
happy contradictions ! For they condemn errors,
honour individuals, and often save souls.
What have been the intellectual and doctrinal conse
quences of Protestantism ?Has Protestantism
been morefavourable than Catholicism to the intel
lectual progress of Christian nations ? l
We are told that Luther was the deliverer of reason ;
by proclaiming for free inquiry he gave the world
the principle of intellectual liberty ; by making the
Bible the foundation of religious instruction he has
made elementary education indispensable ; thus, in
every direction, he has furthered the progress of know
ledge ; from this point of view Protestant countries
are still vastly superior to Catholic.
But this is not so clear after all ! If we cast a
glance on the whole of the general history of the
progress of minds in Christendom for the last
four centuries we are not at all struck by the in
tellectual superiority of Protestant nations. Certainly
England and Germany have played afine role in the pro
gress of science, no doubt both have produced excellent
literary works and have given birth to thinkers who
for centuries have left their stamp on the intelligence
1 The principal works to be consulted on this chapter are :
Doellinger, La Reforme, son developpement intirieur et les rhultats
quelle a produiis. Paris, 1848-1849. 3 vols. 8vo. Abb6 Martin,
De Favenir du Protestantisme et du Catholicisme. Paris, 1869.
Lichtenberger, Histoire des idies religieuses en Allemagne depuis le
XVIII' siecle jusqu'a nos jours. Paris, 1888. 3 vols, in 12.
Goyan, F Allemagne religieuse, le Protestantisme. Paris, 1901. 4th
of mankind. Can one say as much of other Protes
tant nations, of Scandinavia for example or North
America ? And has the part played at certain epochs
by Catholic nations been less grand ? Take Spain,
Italy, and especially France, for instance. How often
France has taken the initiative and that at times when
she was profoundly Catholic ! Whence then arose
the regenerator of modern thoughtDescartesif
not from the very heart of our own country ? It
little matters here what opinion one has of his work.
And if we compare Catholics and Protestants in each
branch of intellectual activity we do not find that the
balance leans always in favour of the latter. In
theology I think that Bellarmin, Suarez, Petau, or
Thomassin can very easily pair with the most cele
brated Lutheran or Calvinistic teachers. In Christian
spirit I cannot find the equal to Francis of Sales or
Fe"nelon. When it is a question of sacred eloquence
the parallel made some few years back between
A. Monod and Bossuet had the effect of a paradox.
Shall we take profane art ? I imagine that both the
French and Spanish theatre since the times of
Corneille and Racine, Lope de Vega and Calderon
until our contemporary authors can well bear com
parison with the German and English stage if I except
the greatest dramatic genius, Shakespeare, who as far
as we can know was himself a Catholic.
I might continue, but it is useless. The real
question is to find what intellectual influence Pro
testant principles have had ; I might be told that it
had reached as far as Catholic countries. To some
extent this would be true in certain branches of study
either by means of direct action or by reaction ; but
it would not be true in a general way, always and for
every form of intellectual study. Let us then insti
tute an inquiry analogous to what we have carried
through on the religious and moral consequences of
Luther's revolution.
I shall confine myself to Germany because it is
impossible to touch upon every point, and because
it is in Germany that the Protestant system has
developed its final results. I know that in this as in
many other respects English Protestantism differs
from German and keeps much closer to truth. On
this point I refer you to the excellent studies by
M. Thureau-Daugin and the Abbe" Bremond, who
will give you, much better than I should, some idea
of the English Protestant spirit, of their inevitable
contradictions, but also of their intellectual activity
and their undeniable sincerity.1
Luther was the deliverer of reason. Oh ! well if
he was it was quite unintentionally ; for he does not
show himself at all kindly disposed to this poor reason.
In his Commentary on the Epistle of the Galatians
the principal quality that he ascribes to faith is to
trample reason under foot, or as he expresses it to
gag and suffocate the beast. " True believers stifle
reason," he tells us after having made the following
exhortation to it :" Listen, my dear reason, you are
but blind and mad and understand naught of heavenly
things. Do not make such a fuss, stop this noise, and
do not set yourself to judge the divine word. The
best thing you can do is to keep quiet, to yield, and
to believe. This is how believers gag the monster,
otherwise the whole world would not succeed in im
posing silence, and this execution is the most praise
1 Thureau-Daugin, La Renaissance Calholique en Angleterre au XIX*
steele. Paris, 2 vols, in 8vo, 1899 and 1903. H. Bremond, Ames
religieuses and IJ inquietude religieuse. Paris, 1 90 1 and 1 902,
worthy work, the most agreeable sacrifice that one
can offer to the Lord."1
"If we wish to enter the Kingdom of God, said
Jesus Christ, we must become like little children : or
in other words, we must subdue our intelligence and
our reason to the condition they were in in infancy,
the condition of a dead and latent faculty. Only
thus shall we obtain faith, that faith to which nothing
is more contrary or more hostile than reason."2
" Anabaptists say that reason is a torch. . . . Reason
shed light? Yes, as dung would if put into a
This realistic metaphor is not enough for Luther.
Towards the end of his life, in a sermon preached at
Wittenberg, he gives us his final word : " Reason is
the affianced one of the devil ; she is a prostitute, the
chief prostitute of the devil, a lousy, filthy, and dis
gusting prostitute that ought to be trampled on and
destroyed, both she and her companion wisdom. It
would be a good thing to make her detestable by
throwing filth in her face, for, abominable wretch that
she is, she only deserves to be placed in the dirtiest
place in the house, in the privy."4 Behold how the
real, primitive, and authentic doctrine of Luther has
contributed to the emancipation of reason !
As to freedom of thought, practically Luther only
admitted it for his own purposes. The office of
censor, for which Protestantism has so often
reproached Catholics, was exercised in Protestant
Germany and also by princes and magistrates at
1 Ed. Walch, vol. viii. 2043.
2 Luther's ungedr. Predigten, Brim's ed. p. 106, quoted by
Doellinger, vol. i. p. 454.
8 Quoted by Doellinger, p. 453, in note.
4 Leipzig ed. vol. xii. p. 373.
the request of doctors whose opinions prevailed.
Luther himself had recourse to it, for in 1529 he
asked the Duke of Mecklemburg to forbid the im
pression of the New Testament translated by Emser.1
As for Melanchthon, he wrote: "Magistrates must
everywhere establish inspectors and censors, who are
charged to watch libraries and printing houses, and it
must be forbidden to publish any book without first
obtaining the censor's permission.2 And indeed
quantities of works were prohibited. In the seven
teenth century the theological faculties and the con
sistories were all-powerful. The young man who
wished to write and teach was bound by oaths and
anathemas, and that by an authority which had no
pretensions to infallibility ! " " These subtle theo
logians," writes the Protestant Hase in his History
of the Church, " would like to represent the good God
as a powerful Lutheran pastor who upholds his honour
with his fists."8
Will Protestants maintain that this censorship they
exercised and the oaths they exacted helped scientific
progress and freedom of thought ?
In this case, facts are against them.
If humanism was the first ally of the Reformation
it was a quickly disabused one. Erasmus very soon
turned his batteries against Luther. Mutian, who
had showed himself to be the most enthusiastic and
the most advanced of the poets of Erfurt, could not
sufficiently deplore the unhappy results of Lutheran
teaching. Crotus Rubeanus went so far as to reproach
the reformers for attacking the Catholic Church, the
1 Cf. Doellinger, vol. i. p. 314.
2 Corpus reform, vol. iv. p. 549, and Epist. Melanchlhonis, Peucer
ed. p. 535.
3 Kirchengeschichte, 10th ed. p. 505.
" mother of the best institutions." Karl de Bodmann
frankly admitted that it was a mistake to wish to
follow Luther. Ulrich Zasius was equally disillu
sioned, and tried to bring back others. One and
all deplored the failure of schools and studies.
" Everywhere Lutheranism is paramount," Erasmus
wrote to Pirkheimer in 1538, "literature is dead."
And Melanchthon echoed these sentiments : " In
Germany all the schools are disappearing. Woe to
the world ! "
In certain Universities the number of students fell
from 300 to 30. The decadence of the schools after
the change of religion is evidenced by a hundred
facts ; Doellinger has brought forward a great number
of them in the first volume of his work on the Re
formation. Luther recognises the state of affairs and
dwells on it : we find him writing everywhere, even
to Livonia, to arrange for the foundation of schools,
but he is obliged to admit the fact that there are
none as in the old papacy days, that no one is willing
to undertake the expenses of a foundation, and that,
moreover, that where there are schools, scholars are
wanting. Doubtless Luther had converted the
Germans more than enough by his invectives against
the Universities.
Besides what kind of studies would Lutheranism, as
it was first conceived, patronise ?
Biblical studies ? Certainly, in the beginning, and
we do not deny that Germany made great advances
in these studies later. But we must remember, and
we have already pointed out this fact, these studies
were very previous to Luther in Germany and in
all Europe. The Gospels had been translated
into popular German since 1477 and several transla
tions of the Bible had rapidlv followed. In Italy
at the end of the thirteenth century Jacques de
Voragine translated the Bible into Italian.
The spirit of Rome, as we have also shown, was not
in the least hostile to the study of the original
languages of the Bible. In the thirteenth century
Barcelona had been endowed by Saint Raymond de
Pennafort with a chair of Oriental languages. They
were taught at Rome and in Germany. One must
remember the quarrel of Reuchlin.
One of the results of Luther's translation of the
Bible was the decrease of such studies, because
preachers felt obliged to use his version. During the
whole of the Reformation not a single complete
edition of the original text of the Bible appeared in
any part of Germany. The first Hebrew Bible was
published in Protestant Germany in 1586 by the
efforts of the Elector Augustus of Saxony.
As to the Greek New Testament, not counting the
Bale editions (the first of these was by Erasmus in
1516), there was not a single edition in Protestant
Germany until that of Leipzig in 1542, and this was
twenty-eight yearslater than the Catholic edition of the
New Testament published at Alcala in 1514. After
which nothing more appeared until 1563.1
Even the study of Latin was seriously hindered
by the Lutheran Reformation. One can, however,
hardly be surprised at this, for Latin was no longer
necessary for the pastor's ministry, besides which in
the early days of pastors a tacitly understood fiat
went forth to bring classical studies into contempt as
much as possible.
" We are sorry to learn," wrote the Margrave of
Brandenburg in 1528, "that there is no longer the
same desire to follow the schools, and we fear that the
1 On this subject, see Doellinger, vol. i. p. 4,6l sqq.
cause of this is largely due to the preachers who
have thought to act well by decrying knowledge and
by leading the young to take up manual professions
under the pretext that there was no longer need of
Latin in the Church. In consequence of this we
order pastors to use henceforth all their influence to
gradually bring back a greater love of study." *
Nothing is more true than the reproach made to
the pastors. At Wittenberg two zealous pastors,
Georges Mohr and Gabriel Didymus, declared in the
pulpit " that the study of sciences was not only useless
but even pernicious, and that one could not do better
than destroy colleges and schools."2
Afterall this was but the echo of Luther's invectives
when he compared " the four Faculties to the four
soldiers who, so tradition says, crucified our Lord."3
And elsewhere he wrote : " The god Moloch, to
which the Jews used to sacrifice their children, is
represented nowadays by the Universities. . . . Here
famous people, doctors, and masters are manufactured
in such a way that one cannot direct souls or preach
without having either taken a degree or at least passed
through the schools ; the jackass first adorns himself
with a doctor's hood and then only does he harness
himself to the shafts of business. . . . The least evil
that could happen to these unfortunate youths is to be
led to commit every excess against nature, the most
shameful debauchery. But what is most to be de
plored is that they are versed in that impious and
pagan knowledge which tends to miserably corrupt
the purest souls and the widest intelligences." 4
1 Religiousakta, vol. xi. n. 64-66, quoted by Doellinger, vol. i.
p. 401.
1 Doellinger, p. 400. 3 Doellinger, p. 450.
4 Conire I'abus des messes, ed. Walch, voL xix. 1430.
And again: "The High Schools deserve to be utterly
destroyed, never since the world has been created
have there existed more diabolical institutions."1
We have already said what Luther thought of the
Fathers ; one can easily conclude therefrom what
became of patristic study and positive theology both
during his time and afterwards. The study of the
Fathers was excluded from the programmes followed
by candidates for the ministry. But this was not to
the advantage of independent research. The truth is
that Luther's writings took the place of everything
In 1564 the Palatine councillor, Wolfgang Haller,
wrote to Illyricus : " It is very rarely that our
preachers use the Sacred Book as evidence for their
statements. Luther's is the only authority they
invoke ; it is in his writings that they place their con
fidence and find their defence. It may be easily con
ceived how this stupid submission to the judgment of
an individual is a cause of ridicule to their enemies
and gives them ample reason for jeering at the
followers of the true doctrine ; for things have reached
such a pass that while Luther tells us that he has no
esteem for the Fathers and that he cares not a jot
for them, his own disciples raise him above the
Fathers, and not only above the Fathers but also
above the Sacred Word, depending entirely on him for
their belief, their opinions, and their very personality." 2
Jerome Weller looked upon the thought of return
ing to the study of the Fathers as a temptation of
the Evil One, for they are, said he, " vastly inferior
to Luther."
1 Sermons, Walch ed. vol. xii. 45, quoted by Doellinger, vol. i.
p. 4*9.
2 Quoted by Doellinger, vol. i. p. 460.
In 1569 the Pastor Melchior Petri asserted that
the pastors "forbid any writings to be read save
those by Luther or his friends." 1
" This ignorance," says Doellinger, who thought
to have found in Luther's writings all that is neces
sary for the modern theologian, " was one of the
causes of the gross and passionate element which
reigned in the numberless discussions of Lutherans
among themselves. . . . Religious strife is so much
the more bitter, prejudiced, and violent as the range
of intelligence of the combatants is narrower and
Neither did historical study gain anything from
the Lutheran movement. We all know what a
large post the devil held in Luther's theology. He
does not hold a less important one in his philosophy
of history. Every difficulty is explained away by
the intervention of the devil, and thus all necessity
for a search for causes is dispensed with and a philo
sophy strange, narrow, and monotonous is developed.
According to the author of the memoir from which
we have quoted, namely Villers, the Lutheran Re
formation rendered a great service to the human
intelligence by taking ecclesiastical history and
partly civil history out of the hands of the monks :
" These hermits," he said, " intermingled a great
number of fables, superstitions, and curses against
heretics into their annals. Where was the Muse of
history with such ministers ? " J
Doubtless many monastic chronicles are wanting
in judgment, yet they contain much valuable in
formation. At anyrate their authors do not explain
all the revolutions in the world and all the designs
of man by the influence of Satan, as is constantly
1 Doellinger, vol. i. p. Mi. - Doellinger, vol i. p. 459. 3 p_ 358.
done by Luther, Melanchthon, and their immediate
Here, for example, is the way in which the vicis
situdes of Germany between 1520 and 1555 are
explained by one of the most fervent disciples of
Luther, namely Alber, superintendent of Mecklemburg.
"As the resistance of Catholics had not profited
Satan and as the Gospel continued to prosper and
spread he resolved to try a cunning trick by giving
us an enemy in our own brother, Andrew Carlstadt,
so that it could be said of us that the heretics them
selves are disunited and that their doctrine has neither
foundation, nor consistency. Later on, the devil em
ployed Sebastian Frank, who cast doubt over all re
ligion. There have been many, too, in whom Satan
inspired the idea of upholding by writing the theory
that a Christian may have as many wives at the same
time as he pleases, and who have thus brought our
Gospel into bad odour and have made people say
that they favoured debauchery. The Evil One led
others (the sabbatists) to re-establish circumcision
and other Jewish practices. All this was planned
with the intention of ruining the Gospel, but it has
not yet succeeded. Finally, Satan employed Nicholas
Storch, Miinzer, and others whose incendiary teach
ings were the cause of the dreadful revolt in which a
hundred thousand peasants perished. However when
the devil saw that the Gospel stood firm in the midst
of the storm he made new enemies of it in the sect
of the Anabaptists. . . . But the one who showed
the most zeal in serving the devil's cause was Erasmus
of Rotterdam. After which the old Serpent profited
by the hatred against us of one of our false brothers
George Wizel. He also took into his service the
Spaniard Servet. All these ruses of the devil re
maining ineffective he thought of sending a band of
incendiaries against us whom the Pope had employed."
Alber also places in the categories of diabolical
deeds the different discussions which the Lutherans
had consented to have with the Catholics, the tax
against the Turks, the Council of Trent, the Interim,
etc. etc.
Thus was history taught in the churches and
schools. Such a method does not require much
effort or much judgment. But this is not all. To
combat the Church more effectively Lutheran his
torians, for example the famous Centuriators of
Magdeburg, deliberately spread abroad falsehoods
and put a number of false documents into circulation.
At least Lutheranism must have helped philo
sophical and theological studies ? "A revolution,"
says Villers, " begun by a reformation in religious
opinion could not fail to awake the spirit of philo
sophy. ... In Protestant universities there is no
oracle save reason. It was true at the end of the
seventeenth century, but what about the beginning
and for more than a century before ? "
Listen to Erasmus : " Does not Luther call the
philosophy of Aristotle diabolical ? Has he not
written that knowledge either practical or theoretical
is damned ? That all knowledge is but sin and error ?
. . . How could such principles produce anything
else but contempt for study ? " 1
We know what Luther thought of reason, that is
to say, his opinion of philosophy and of the inter
vention of reason in theological studies. And he
does not hide his opinions. He says : " As faith
1 Erasmus, EpisL ad fraires Germania ittferioris. Cologne, 1561.
Quoted by Doellinger, p. 444.
might teach us absurdities, as, for example, that 2
and 5 make 8, it is evident that at any price reason
must be prevented from entering into things of faith.
. . . Only the devil," he adds, " could have inspired
Romish priests with the idea of constituting reason
judge of the will and of divine works."1
Born in opposition to scholasticism Lutheranism
soon fell into a more chilling, a narrower, and more
formal scholasticism than the old one. Hear what
a Protestant historian has to say on the subject :
" Scripture was only known by a certain number
of isolated passages which had been especially selected
for controversial purposes and of which the explana
tion was definitely settled for each portion. . . .
Learned men wrote in a forced, unnatural Latin . . .
orthodox zealots were always ready to quarrel about
subtle distinctions of incomprehensible matters. The
teaching of Saint Augustine on unity in necessary
things, liberty in those doubtful, and charity every
where, was as effectual in this case as a sermon in the
It is a remarkable fact and one that Janssen had
well brought forward in the last translated volume of
his great work on Germany and the Reformation, the
one entitled : Civilisation in Germany from the end of
the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Thirty Years'
Warit is not only those branches of knowledge
which are more or less directly related to the sacred
sciences which have been affected by the deterioration
brought about by the action of the religious revolu
tion, but all manifestations whether artistic or literary
of the intellectual activity of the German people.
The satirical pamphlet which was much in vogue
1 Ed. Walch, vol. xi. 2308, quoted by Doellinger, vol. i. p. 454.
a Hase, Kirchengeschichte, 10th ed. p. 505.
in these days of controversy descended to the most
extraordinary obscenities.
In this Luther had some good disciplesJohan
Fischart, for example.1 Of course the Catholic
Church is the object of his sarcasm. Here are
a few specimens :
In the new islands the head of the Gorgon Medusa,
a Roman sea-wonder, had been discovered :
" In the sea they've chanced to find
Sea-wonders of a Roman kind :
Sea-bishops, sea-monks, and sea-priests,
Mass grottoes, pilgrim apes, all which
Bear a strong resemblance to
The Romish ecclesiastical crew.
For Scripture calls the sea a world
From which huge monsters are up-hurled,
But no greater ones are bred
Than the so-called Church's heads,
Who in the sea of the world do roar,
And bring forth sea-devils galore. . . ."
But the present find is a veritable arch sea-wonder :
such a sea-lamb, an animal on a stool, a Babylonish
whore, is the hellish monster at Rome, with its scales
and its grovelling company :
" This is the Medusa, the famed sea-whore
Whom the sea-god Phoreys bore,
From Ceto of the whale-fish race. . . .
This is Circe, the sea-queen,
The venomous spider and enchantress,
Who by a magic drink, the guests
Who visit her can change to beasts."
This "hussy" plagues with ban, burning, poison,
and murder, but knows how to parade before the
world in all sorts of dazzling church pageantry,
mummy shows, ornaments, fasts, confessions, masses :
1 Janssen, vol. xii. of the English trans.
" All these outward functions were
The Babylonish whore's attire,
Which her loTers did ensnare,
And half the world around her gather.
But as to-day the varnishing
Grows shabby and the colours fade,
We see that all this garnishing
Was finery the sorry jade
Had borrowed from the Jew and pagan,
And from the storehouse of the dragon." ]
The religious drama which in the fifteenth century
had been one of the glories of German literature
descends to buffoonery and coarseness. The pieces
borrowed from the history of Joseph give some idea
of this fact ; the author of one of these is a pastor
who wishes it to be played in the schools. Some of
its dialogue is so licentious that I could not reproduce
it here. In the one by Schlays, Joseph in the presence
of his father hurls a volley of abuse on the heads of
his brothers, and Jacob goes one better ; for example,
he calls Reuben a jackass, etc. ; in the one by Gasman
Joseph is flogged by his brethren, and the chief
villain, Levi, eggs them on with the words : " Now
quickly strike his throat in two ! " Potiphar is rated
by his wife as a" lazy fool," who swills himself full.
Levi complains of a stomach ache because he has
drunk too much beer and wine ; and Simeon is so
dead drunk that he can scarcely get to the door ; and
so on in the same style.2
Baumgart, another pastor, wrote a popular story
for children, entitled : How our Lord Himself
taught the Catechism to Eve's Children. Cain behaves
very stupidly in words and gestures, whereupon God
the Lord says to him : " You stupid ass, you clown,
1 English trans, of Janssen, vol. xi. pp. 373-374.
2 Janssen, vol. xii. p. 28. English trans.
you're a great big ruffian and a filthy beast of a
peasant. See how you're standing there like a great
gawk ; see how you're hanging your head like a thief,
scratching your hands ; your eyes, your nose, your
mouth are full of filth. Yea verily, you're a Roman
ist, and a perverted Christian, a papist and antichrist,
an epicure, a godless wretch, who believes neither in
God nor in His Word. . . . Yea, like a true Romanist
and papist you do not believe, either, whether there
is any eternal life, you godless rascal : off to the
gallows with you, you good-for-nothing wretch ! " 1
Even in a Christmas play, " Weihnachts freund
und gute neue Mahr," by the poet laureate, John
Seger of Greifswald (1613), one comes upon scarcely
credible coarseness. Lucifer, for instance, speaks
concerning the Holy Virgin:
" Pfui, thou wanton witch and H . . . ,
On thee fall hell's worst plagues galore,
Pfui, thou cursed seed of woman,
Now must I suffer woes inhuman."
Whereupon the archangel Gabriel replied : " You
must have your shameless lying and blaspheming
jaw stopped a little, if you slander the Virgin Mary
so infamously you're a godless liar lost to all
honour. . . . " *
The devil is for ever appearing on the scene:
" If nowadays, religious and moral comedies are to
be acceptable to the people," so a contemporary com
plains, "they must be full of devils in horrible
shapes ; there must be plenty of shrieking, bellowing,
yelling, and abusing, and men and women must be
carried off with wild howlings ; in short, there must
1 Janssen, vol. xii. pp. 30, 31 English trans.
* Janssen, vol. xii. p. 33. English
be as much uproar as possible. This is what the
common people chiefly delight in and expect in
comedies." l
A whole literature exists of all that is horrible and
wonderful. The Lutheran preachers related the most
frightful, the most grotesque, the most obscene
prodigies, and they call that " the torrent of wonders
that have spread in Germany since fifty or sixty years
by the brilliant light of the Gospel." There are
especially an extraordinary number of infant pheno
mena, some arriving in the world with a golden tooth,
others with a huge rump, etc. etc., and all prophesy
ing in favour of the new doctrine ; dead arise from
their graves to preach ; angels come down from
heaven ; contracts are made with the devil when he
comes on a visit ; every accident, every illness is attri
buted to the direct action of the devil. Books on
magic and witchcraft are constantly being written.2
Witches abound. Poor wretches who are simply
ill or melancholy are burnt as such. At Strasbourg,
in four days (15th, 18th, 24th, 28th October 1582)
one hundred and thirty-four were burnt, just double
the number of those who were burnt in the five autos
da f6 mentioned higher up, and this raging persecu
tion lasted until the seventeenth century.
This most certainly is a complete triumph of the
deliverance of reason !
However the day was to come when Protestantism
was to recover reason. Nevertheless being bound by
no authority it would gradually destroy not only all
Lutheran and Calvinistic dogma but all that was
Christian also. If by intellectual progress you mean
1 Quoted by Janssen, vol. xii. p. 278. English trans.
8 Janssen, vol. xii. English trans.
the progress of free thought it is undeniable that
Protestantism has helped it. And this is what I have
to prove to you.
The task before me is an arduous one. Neverthe
less I believe it to be necessary and one of a nature
to interest you for you will recognise therein many
ideas to which constant allusion is being made in the
religious controversies of the present day. It goes
without saying that I shall be obliged to sketch in
bold lines and to leave the shading. Philosophers
and professional students will know how to forgive
One reads on the walls of the Wartbourg at Witten
berg these lines : " God's word and Luther's doctrine
will stand for ever." What an irony is contained in
these words when one casts a glance at the rationalism
of Germany and of a great part of Protestantism !
" There is no more sure historical law," writes M.
Auguste Sabatier, " than that of the mutual depend
ence and stability that exists between philosophy and
religion." 1
The great thinker and genius of Germany in the
seventeenth century was Leibnitz. At the beginning
of the seventeenth century the system of Leibnitz
was adapted by Wolf to meet the wants of mediocre
minds as it has been aptly expressed. It was Wolf
too who introduced into Protestant theology the
germ of Cartesian philosophy and the first growth of
a narrow and superficial rationalism. According to
him clearness was the one test of truth and in his
Natural Theology published in 1719 he tried to
simplify religion, to make it clear and acceptable by
stripping it of all that was supernatural. Nicolai
argues from the same point of view in his philosophical
1 A. Sabatier, Lettre in Aguilera. La Theologie de Favenir, p. 7.
romance Life and Opinions of Sebald Nathanker, as
well as in the " Universal German Library," a huge
encyclopaedia, the organ of the " partisans of know
ledge," which exercised a tremendous influence on
the movement of thought in Germany from 1765 to
Still more energetic was to be Lessing's action, for
he took the principle of an independent and purely
rational criticism from the domain of philosophy and
carried it into that of Biblical exegesis. In 1774 he
began to publish the famous Fragments of an Un
known, by Reimar, philologist, naturalist, and philo
sopher, who had been dead some years. There were
seven of these " Fragments," and their titles were
full of significance : 1. On the toleration of deists ;
2. On the custom of decrying reason from the pulpit ;
3. The impossibility of admitting a unique revelation
for all men ; 4. The impossibility of admitting the
passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea ; 5. The
impossibility of finding a religion in the Old Testa
ment ; 6. The Gospel accounts of the resurrection of
Christ; 7. The aim of Jesus and His disciples.
Reimar accounted Moses as a mere trickster. He
pretended to find ten contradictions in the accounts
of the Resurrection, which he declared to be an inven
tion of the Apostles ; Christ by proclaiming Himself
to be the Messiah only desired to restore the Jewish
theocracy, and John the Baptist would have been
His accomplice in this policy.
Lessing added hypocritical notes to the fragments :
Our " Unknown," he said, " has shown up all the
contradictions which are to be found in the accounts
we have of Christ's resurrection." Supposing that he
1 Lichtenberger, Histoire des idtes religieuses en Allemagne, Paris,
1888, vol. i. chap. i.
is right, it ought not to prevent our believing that
Christ really rose from the dead. The same is the
case with all the objections which may be raised
against the Bible. The letter is not the spirit, and
the Bible is not religion. Christianity existed before
the Evangelists and Apostles wrote. ..." And," he
adds, " are books the only means of enlightening men
and making them better ? Suppose all the books of
the New Testament had been lost, would it follow
that there would exist no further trace nowadays of
Christ's acts and teachings ? " And again : " Even if
one were not able to refute all the objections against
the Bible, religion would always remain intact in the
heart of those Christians who had acquired a deep
sentiment of these truths." 1
Harnack, quoting this sentence in his lecture : Le
christianisme et t/dstoire, calls it " the phrase of
deliverance. " 2 And for the same reason the French
minister Fontanel in his book : Le christianisme
moderne, Etude sur Lessing, honours Lessing as the
father of liberal Protestantism.3
It is from these premises that have resulted first
Christianity without dogma and then the Christian
subjectivism of our days.
About the same time, Semler, in his Introduction
to a theological exegesis in his Apparatus written in
favour of the free interpretation of the Old and New
Testaments reached an interpretation so free that he
himself was afraid of it, especially in presence of the
impious audacities of Bahrdt, who sought to reach the
body of the faithful by his popular letters on the
Bible. " One has only," said Bahrdt, " to use the
1 Lichtenberger, vol. i. chap. iii.
2 Leipzig, 1896, p. 18.
8 Vol. i. Paris, 1867.
name of Jesus pretty frequently to persuade people
that true Christianity is being taught." Semler was
less cynical, his mother's piety had deeply impressed
him ; but at the bottom he expressed the same idea
as Bahrdtan idea destined to work wonders among
German pastorswhen he wrote that there were two
religions, one public, the other private ; that cult
constitutes the first which may not be changed, that
the second depends on the individual who may add
or retrench all that his conscience or reason demands,
that, moreover, one may continue to use traditional
and conventional forms if one explains them as one
may find convenient.1
We might be listening to our contemporaries, to
those modern-style theologians who tell us that words
have two meanings and that by a good use of
equivocal terms faithful and learned may be con
tented together ?
Under the double influence of Lessing and of
Herder, who, from the cloudy summits of his mysticism
coloured by pantheism, only sees in Christianity a
magnificent poem, and in Jesus the sublime model
for humanity, Eichorn, a vast and vigorous mind,
undertakes to reduce the whole Bible to a purely
natural sense and proportion. According to him the
Jews, like all ancient peoples, attributed to the
Divinity all which struck them by its greatness, all
which surpassed their intelligence ; they expressed
themselves by images and hyperbole, and in the
narrative of facts they omitted essential details to
which they attached no importance.
Whatever is marvellous in the Sacred Text may
be explained naturally. For instance, the vocation of
Moses was nothing else but the outcome of a long
1 Lichtenberger, vol. i. ch. iv.
indulged thought to deliver Israel, which, added to a
dream, was mistaken by Moses for a Divine inspira
This system still supposed the authenticity of the
Scriptures. The successors of Eichorn were to com
pletely demolish this last remnant. Eichorn had, at
the close of his life, himself denied the authenticity of
a part of the Pentateuch.
Thus, towards the end of the eighteenth century,
in spite of the praiseworthy efforts of a little group
of apologists, on the grounds of philosophy and of
exegesis, the old Lutheran system was completely
battered down ; nothing had been able to arrest its
fall ; rationalism was the master and pervaded the
whole Protestant dogma. Educated in the uni
versities the pastors were imbued with it, whilst in
France, at the same time, if rationalism did gain
great victories at anyrate it did not reach the mass
of the clergy or in any way affect the doctrine of the
Catholic Church. But the ideas of one who belongs
to the eighteenth century by his life, and to the
nineteenth by his action which began with the
Revolution had already began to spread abroad
Emmanuel Kant.
It would be impossible for me to tell in a few
words what was the influence on the religious de
velopment of Germany of the man whose name is
the initial of every philosophical movement of
modern times. The forms of our intelligence, as
well as the knowledge resulting therefrom, are purely
subjective ; for by pure reason we cannot know any
thing about the great objects of human knowledge,
self, world, and God. Moral conscience is autonomous
and absolute ; the certainty of goodness is quite
independent of all theory on goodness ; it is both
anterior and superior. It has all the force of a
"categorical necessity." Religion is neither the
source nor the support of morality ; it is merely a
sort of appendage, a simple postulate of practical
reason. Moral conscience is the sovereign judge in
matters of faith. Religious truths cannot be proved.
Reason has no decisive argument either for or
against supernatural revelation. Besides, where is
the line between natural and supernatural ? Where
does the miraculous begin ? No one can say. The
true nucleus and essence of revealed faith, stripped
of all exterior dogma, is purely moral belief. Dogma
is the symbol of a moral idea and this moral idea
is its essential element.1
These three ideas on truth, morality, and religion
are henceforth to exercise their rule over Protes
tant theology in Germany. Add thereto the in
fluence of Hegel, which strengthened more than
ever the opinion that religious dogma is but an
image, a representation, a symbol, that religion itself
is but the consciousness of Divinity in the finite
The two men who did the most to develop German
Protestantism towards the rationalism in which it is
now enveloped were Schleiermacher and Ritschl, who
had the same masterKant.
A few months after the birth of the nineteenth
century a short book appeared in Berlin by Schleier
macher called Religion : Talks to cultivated minds
among its slanderers (Reden iiber Religion).
" He has reigned for nearly a hundred years," says
M. Georges Goyau, "over German Protestantism.
His speculative theories have formed many minds,
1 See Lichtenberger, Histoire des idies religieuses en Allemagne, vol.
ii. pp. 20-25.
and his meditation yet more consciences. Those who
are frightened by his pantheism are allured by his
religious feeling ; if one cannot follow his deductions
one bows before his intuitions." *
Schleiermacher made pantheism his starting-point ;
but after a few preambles drawn from this doctrine
he came back to Luther's idea of placing man in
direct contact with the Divinity by the sentiment
man possesses of his absolute dependence on God:
" Religion," he said, " is the intimate sense of con
tact with God. It is not in books, nor in tradition,
that it has its origin, but in our heart. . . . Faith in
Christ is independent of miracles, prophecies, in
spirations, or any secondary details on which the old
schools lay so much stress. It is a matter of ex
perience. It is a Christian community, formed,
cemented, upheld by a long universal experience
which reveals the moral and religious greatness of
Christ, and this experience is faith."
" Theology only serves to note the empirical gifts
of faith. The perfect Christian who knows himself
best is the most perfect theologian."
M. Goyau, from whom I have borrowed this doc
trinal exposition, says : " Until our own days the
various currents of thought, whether theological or
liberal, of a new orthodoxy or the so-called happy
medium, have been formed and nourished at the
source of religiosity of which Schleiermacher opened
the flood-gates." And he adds :
" From Luther to Schleiermacher the road followed
by the Reformation had not wandered or even
divided ; logic had been its propensity. Between
the soul of the faithful and God Luther had evicted
all authority, all human institutions. In his turn,
1 Goyau, CAllemagne religieuse, le Protestantism, p. 76.
Schleiermacher evicts these other obstacles, revealed
law, and exterior dogma. He derives dogma from
the very phenomenon of Christian piety, and sows
in all the schools the ideawhich contains the germ
of death for some and of expansion for othersthat
without religious men religion would not exist."1
Schleiermacher has accustomed various schools of
thought to recognise the independence and the au
tonomy of religion in the soul of every believer.
Ritschl, in the years which followed, was to go one
step further. Hear what Heinrich Schcen, the his
torian of his theology, has to say : 2
"To those who were discouraged by the attacks
of criticism, he gave the assurance that faith and
salvation are independent of the results of histori
cal research. To theologians weary of dogmatic
quarrellings he presents a Christianity free from any
far-fetched metaphysics. To the erudite, who fear
to see theology succumb to the attacks of positive
science, he shows a way where all collision with
natural science becomes impossible. To eager
students of history he unfolds the development of
the primitive Church. To timid Christians he says :
God has never been angry with you, He tells you
to return to Him. To hardened pessimists he cries :
Labour for the advancement of God's kingdom, band
together for the common work ; doctrine without
Christian practice is nothing. To enthusiastic youth
he shows the means whereby they may influence the
men of our time. In a century eager for freedom and
equality he founds a social theology, which makes
the individual disappear in the multitude."8
1 Goyau, op. cit. pp. 84-85.
2 Les origines historiques de la theologie de Ritschl, Paris, 1893, in 8vo.
3 Schoen, pp. 8-9.
Philosophical subjectivism weakened the claims
of the idea of the absolute ; the subjectivism of his
torical criticism struck at the authority of the Holy
Scriptures ; Ritschl " dressed up " Protestant theology
in a way that made it compatible with these two
phases of subjectivism. Thanks to him the most
incredulous minds could delude themselves with the
idea that they were religious.
According to Harnack this system is the outcome
of the workings of evangelical theology for two
hundred years ; it is the legitimate ending to the long
task begun by Wolf in 1719.1
" God's word and Luther's doctrine will stand for
What remains to-day ; what is the result of this
lengthy evolution which has led us from the exces
sive and radical denial of the rights of reason to the
exclusive use of reason alone ?
First the denial of all definite dogma and even
of the idea of religious truths, such as had hitherto
been accepted by all the faithful. " Faith," said
Bossuet to Protestants, as did Saint Vincent de Lerins,
" is a thing which does not depend on the mind but
which we learn from those who have preceded us."
Jurieu thought likewise. Two centuries have passed
and contemporary German theology professes the
contrary, that religion has no foothold in a soul ex
cept by individual opinion, personal emotion, self-in
tuition. Dogma is regarded as the product of a
religious mind, the spontaneous growth of personal
"In fact," wrote M. Guyau in his famous book
The Irreligion of the Future, when expressing the
1 Dogmengeschichte, 2nd ed. 1890, vol. iii. p. 762.
conclusions reached by the later theologians of Pro
testant Germany, "the true Word, the sacred utter
ance, it is no longer God who makes it echo through
the succeeding centuriesthe same eternally ; but
it is we who pronounce it, we suggest it to Him at
least, for what makes the value of words if not the
significance attached to it."1
In other words, religious truth is purely subjective,
and there is nothing to prove that it corresponds to
a reality outside the mind of the believer ; it does
not exist ; it is made ; and each one makes it.
But mark the consequences. Carry this idea, that
it is religious people who make religion, into the
study of exegesis and religious history : " Immedi
ately," as M. Georges Goyau very justly remarks,
" the line of battle drawn up by the old schools
(whether supernatural or rationalist) falls into dis
order, and the whole complexion of affairs is changed
from what it was in the past centuries." 2
Between Schleiermacher on the one hand, Strauss,
the chief of the so-called mythical school, and Baur,
the chief of the historical school of Tubingen, on the
other, one sees the parallel. Religion is religious
feeling, says the philosopher, and very soon arise
historians who declare that religious documents, the
reputed depositories of a revelation from above, are
nothing but the sentiments of religious men of olden
days and that dogmas are the products of different
ages, a necessary translation of the Christian con
science. And in the same way that your own re
ligion Protestants of the nineteenth centuryis
nothing but subjectivism operating on Christianity,
1 Guyau, L'irrtligion de Favenir, p. 133, quoted by Goyau, p. xix.
2 Goyau, L'Allemagne religieuse, p. 85.
so this Christianity itself is in its turn nothing but
the subjectivism of your far-off ancestors. If religion
is nothing more than an affair of conscience, individual
or collective, the history of a religion will simply be
the history of the developments of religious con
Under such a system, the Holy Scripture, the
' unique rule of faith of primitive Protestantism, loses
all doctrinal authority. If one asks the modern
theologian: "Do you believe that the Bible is an
inspired book ? " he replies : " For me the Bible is
the word of God because It speaks to me more
clearly than anything else." Ritschl takes the Bible
as his foundation but he adapts it to his doctrine.
The Scriptures which he recognises as the source of
religion are the Scriptures as read and explained by
This is not all. The critical and scientific study of
the Sacred Books is strongly influenced and falsified
by this system. Catholics are reproached with not
being independent in these matters and with judging
from the standpoint of the Church's dogmas and
definitions ; but the Protestant critical followers of
Schleiermacher or of Ritschl do not study in an
objective manner the questions of exegesis and of
religious history ; they treat them as preconceived
philosophical ideas ; which, we may as well remark,
does not constitute scientific progress.
See how Reuss, Wellhausen, Stade, their followers
and their imitators, reason with regard to Biblical
exegesis. The Jewish religion is an outcome of the
Jewish people, a result of Jewish history ; Israel can
not have made its religion in the way narrated in the
Old Testament ; the sudden apparition of a law-giver
1 Goyau, op. cti. p. 89.
like Moses is unlikely. Whence the theories on the
writings of the Bible, their date, their succession, the
stratagems of their compilers, etc. But historical
improbability is merely what seems improbable to
such or such a historian. Each one, according to
his own idea, says : " That could not have happened,
therefore the text is not authentic, or the date does
not coincide with the one universally admitted."
M. Goyau tells a very good anecdote of a pastor of
Fribourg-in-Brisgau, who, in 1893, was giving a course
of instruction to some teachers and was talking about
the words of Saint Thomas to our Lord : " My Lord,
and my God." This pastor declared that " Saint
Thomas could not have spoken thus, for Jesus is not
God but man."1
M. Harnack does not speak quite so naively as this
pastor, but all the same when he studies the Gospel of
Jesus he does so from the idea he has already formed
for himself of Christianity, and he conforms facts and
texts to this idea. Those who refute him do the
same with another conception, and Christ becomes,
as M. Georges Goyau so well puts it, for erudite
Germany what He was for the Athenians in the
time of the Apostle Paulthe Unknown God.2
And this is what He would soon be for us if the
Catholic Church, under pretext of scientific method,
gave any encouragement to the subjective and apriori
method of the Protestant and Rationalistic com
mentators of contemporary Germany or even to the
hypothetic results of their labours.
Another result which would soon be brought about
and which indeed has in some instances been mani
fested would be the scandalous assertion so general
1 L'Allemagne religieuse, p. 92, note.
2 Ibid. p. 93.
nowadays in Protestant Germany that a double truth
exists, one for the use of pastors and teachers and the
other for the faithful taught ; the one for the strong
and the other for the weak.
Kattenbusch, one of the disciples of Ritschl, wrote
that " it would be a blessing from God if all con
temporary theologians, in spite of their disagree
ment on certain ideas, were to be consistent in using
the language of the Bible and of the Reformation.
Whoever uses this language loyally, even under
misapprehension ; whoever uses these words ... as
expressions which he cannot put on one side even
when they mean something else to him than to many
other souls of to-day and yesterday . . . such a one
does not deserve contempt. . . . This language is a
bond of union." 1
One of the chief causes of the diffusion of Ritschlianism
is precisely this facility which it gives to incredulous
pastors to speak the language of the faithful.
But this equivocation which had become necessary
from the fact of the education given to the ministry
and the official functions required of them by the
State Church was not to everyone's taste.
" Is the spirit of truth," sadly exclaims Pastor
Dreyer, " and Luther's strict conscientiousness to be
forgotten by us? Whoever would speak of sacred
things must have for sovereign principle to never say
a word of the truth of which he is not absolutely
convinced." 2
" Falsehood in the pulpit is worse than the want of
pulpits," said a faithful pastor of Hambourg in
1 Kattenbusch, Von Schleiermacher su Ritschl, sur Orientierung
neber den gegenwartigen Stand der Dogmatik, pp. 37-38. Giessen, 1 893.
* Undogmatisches ChrUtenthum, p. 52, Brunswick, 1 890, quoted by
Goyau, p. 128.
1894 ;* and three years before, in 1891, the superin
tendents of Hesse-Cassel had drawn up this pastoral
letter, full of good sense :
" We cannot admit, in the matter of preaching the
Redemption, that there is question of any other
Christ than the real Lord Christ such as has been
preached by the Evangelists and Apostles and such
as the Church has believed in and still believes in
until our own days, comformably to its creeds,
especially the Apostles' Creed, which represents Christ
to us in full, bold lines. ... It is now a well-known
fact that this Christ is being displaced by the descrip
tion of a pretended Historical Christ which no
historical source furnishes us with and which is not
to be found in any of the letters of the Apostles or in
one of the Gospels and of which the characteristics
are gathered here and there in the Gospels by remov
ing all that might appear to shock the personal
thought of what is right and proper. . . .
" He who cannot join with the congregation in the
great acts of God for our salvation at Christmas,
Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, and Whitsunday
ought to be loyal enough not to wish for an ecclesi
astical office in our churches." l
Yes, but what authority is to decide that the pastors
may go so far and no farther ? A Liberal leaflet 2
written in 1893 declared that "thousands of Protes
tants do not recognise the Apostles' Creed," and influ
enced by this statement it was decided to take it out
of the ordination ceremony ; it was put back in 1894,
but the faith of the pastors was not thereby changed.3
1 Max Glage, Notschrei au die Christen auf und unter den Kanzeln
Hamburgs, p. 13. Hambourg, 1894. Ibid. p. 130.
aChronik. 1893, p. 149, quoted by Goyau, 134.
8 The Deutsches Protestantenblatt, quoted by Goyau, p. 115.
Pastor Glage says amusingly that the conscience of
the young pastor is first handed over to the "uni
versity popes " and in thirteen universities out of
seventeen, incredulity reigns.1
The State may easily maintain external unity in
the Church. It is very easy to cover the most
varied beliefs with the same roof and to call them by
the same name, but the State cannot establish
doctrinal unity, and indeed it would be against
Protestant principles to do so. " What right have
you," M. Goyau says, and with justice, " to restrict
the conscience and researches of unbelieving pro
fessors ? Thomas was a teacher, I also am a teacher,
said John Wessel, whom Luther regarded as a
precursor ; like Luther and like this precursor the
unbelieving professors are also teachers. ... In this
period of four centuries that the Reformation will
shortly have lived, it has remained absolutely faithful
to the principle of liberty of conscience and by the
very fact of this liberty it has passed through the
most surprising evolution until it has finally reached
the antipodes of its original plan." 2
Were time not so short we might make a similar
study of French Liberal Protestantism, and we should
arrive at the same conclusions reached only eight
years ago by M. Francis de Pressense" in his famous
preface to Cardinal Manning and that M. Gabriel
Monod so well expresses in The Historical Reviexv
of May 1892.3
" Protestantism is but a series and a collection of
religious forms of free thought."
Already in 1869 the Abbe" Martin wrote with deep
1 Goyau p. 166.
2 L'Allemagne religieuse, p. 171.
3 P. 103.
penetration : " By continually identifying itself with
Rationalism, Protestantism is becoming the religious
form of the ultimate negation not only for Protestants
but also for a large number of Catholics, thus exercis
ing the most dire influence over minds."
However, as a whole, Frenchmen refuse this
strange conception of a religion. When they think
they have no further intellectual motives of belief
in revealed truth, when the latter does not appear
to them to be sufficiently proven, they deny straight
forwardly and go to Rationalism pure and simple.
Does this mean, as has been said, that they are less
religious than English or Germans ? No, it is simply
because of their logical turn of mind. Unless, like
some of our contemporaries, their minds have been so
steeped in contact with English and German writers,
they cannot understand those equivocal standpoints
and those intellectual compromises which do not seem
to them to be consistent either with logic or with
sincerity, and to speak frankly, I think they are quite
in the right.
In any case I do not doubt that the good sense
and the Christian spirit of French Catholics will be
able to resist the more or less deliberate attempts
made to carry them in one leap to the doctrinal
extremes of German Protestantism. If so, they will
further true knowledge as well as true faith.
Has Protestantism been more favourable titan
Catholicism to the Social and Political progress
of Modern Nations ? 1
We are, in the face of numerous and irrefutable
witnesses, willing to admit that the primitive doctrine
of Luther, and in particular his theory on faith and
works, may have led to the deterioration of Christian
life and of public and private morals in the midst
of the first generations which embraced the new
doctrines ; that, even nowadays, the moral and
religious life is only kept to a certain level in Pro
testant countries in virtue of principles, directly
opposed to those of the Reformation, by an un
conscious return to Catholic principles, by authority,
by education, and moreover that taken as a whole it
does not surpass the moral and religious fife of really
Catholic countries ; we are still more inclined to
admit that the same primitive teachings of the
founder of the Reformation have only been favour
able to the study and progress of knowledge from
the day when Protestants frankly entered the field
1 For the bibliography add to the works already quoted in the
two preceding chapters : Doellinger, L'Eglise et les Eglises. Bayle
translation. Paris, 1 862. Flamerion, De la prosperiti comparie des
nations catholiques et des nations protestantes. Paris, 1 90 1 . Revue sociale
catholique de Louvain, May-June, 1899, article by Weyrich, In
ferioriti economique des nations catholiques. Revue de Fribourg, 1904,
articles de E. Folletfite, De la prctendue inferiorite des nations
of intellectul developmentit may have been for
the want of a guiding and authoritative handto the
detriment of Christian dogma and to the profit of
free thought. At least, add the upholders of the
theory which we are refuting, it is a fact that you
will concede in your turn because it is a fact and one
not to be denied : the Protestant nations are now
adays the most powerful and most free in the whole
world ; by declaring for open inquiry and by break
ing the yoke of Rome Luther laid the foundations of
that social and political progress which makes nations
It is true that in the present state of things and
since a certain number of years three nations, mainly
ProtestantsI say mainly because two of them con
tain a small but active Catholic minorityEngland,
Germany, and the United States of America, rank
among the greatest and most powerful nations in the
world ; as to Russia, which is systematically passed
over in silence, if she is not Roman she is still less
Protestant or free. Catholic France has been defeated
by Protestant Germany and Catholic Spain by the Pro
testant United States : these two powers, which were
formerly in the front rank, have retreated to the second
or third. This fact is unfortunately incontestable.
So then, our adversaries say to us, Protestant
countries rise and Catholic countries descend. Still
more, adds M. de Laveleye, "in the same country,
wherever the two religions are present, the Protes
tants are always more active, more industrious,
more economical, and consequently richer than the
Catholics."1 Why?
Why? The answer is very simple, reply M. de
Laveleye's publishers in their pamphlet of 1899.
^Pp. 5-6.
"As time unfolds and advances the principles of
life and of death which are disseminated in the world
present themselves more strongly. The consequences
of the great act of moral and intellectual emancipation
the religious reformation of the sixteenth century
never have been more clearly seen than in our own
times. Protestantism has classed people into two
great families : that which looks ahead, evolves, pro
gresses normally, and that which lags behind and can
only see social salvation in the subjection of man to
an authority which annihilates all that is vital in him."
In these words the publishers of M. de Laveleye
do but develop the master's thoughts.
The Reformation, writes the latter, has furthered
the progress of the peoples which have adopted it
because it has always encouraged liberty ; in the
political and social order it has engendered free in
stitutions and a representative regime, whence the
internal peace and steady progress of Protestant
nations ; in the economic order she has developed
the spirit of initiative, whence the triumph of industry
and the increase of riches.
Catholicism, on the contrary, leads to despotism
and consequently to anarchy ; hence Catholic countries
perpetually oscillate between absolute rule and violent
revolution ; being founded on the contempt of the
world and on submission, it is the father of inertia.
Conclusion: the Reformation has given to the
nations adopting it a strength for which history can
hardly account ; . . . the peoples subjected to Rome
seem to be afflicted with sterility.1
Example : Ireland, which M. de Laveleye seriously
compares with Scotland and England. The latter
are Protestant, active, powerful, and rich ; the former,
1 Pp. 7-8.
on the contrary, is "given up to ultramontism, is
poor, miserable, and swayed by a rebellious spirit ; it
is incapable of rising by its own strength."
I will not dwell on this odious comparison. Ireland
is not a nation, M. de Laveleye ; Ireland is a victim,
the victim of the Protestant brutality of your heroic
characters, Elizabeth, Cromwell, and William III. ;
and your comparison is just as magnanimous, and just
as suitable as one made between the executioner and
the unfortunate wretch he tortures. The executioner
is big, strong, and well. The sufferer has his limbs
dislocated and broken, he cannot rise by himself;
assuredly he must be ultramontane and his execu
tioner Protestant. Ah ! M. Laveleye, if Germany,
so great and so powerful, fell on your dear little
Belgium, this would be another proof of the superiority
of Protestantism over Catholicism, would it not ?
But can you not see that even if the triplethe
political, social, and economicalsuperiority of Pro
testant nations or populations were proved, still you
would have no right to draw such conclusions, for if
religion is one of the causes of the greatness of nations,
there are still an infinity of others to be reckoned
with ; and an economist like yourself cannot ignore
it. We have to make use of all the respect we have
for our adversaries to take you seriously when you
wish to reduce the whole question to two terms, race
and cult ; not race, therefore it must be cult.
One of your compatriots says very justly that, " if
Spain was Catholic when defeated by the Americans,
it is none the less true that she was still more Catholic
when she banished the Moors, annexed America, and
was victorious in many European battlefields." 1
1 M. Weyrich, Revue sociale catholique of Louvain ; De Finferiorite
fconomique des nations Catholiques. May -June, 1 899.
If Protestant principles imply the greatness of
nations, it may well be said that, apart from Holland,
they have taken plenty of time to do their work ; and
that in any case it is a very remarkable thing that the
effect has only taken place, especially in Germany,
when Protestantism has ceased to be again, and
when Lutheran principles have been forsaken for their
Moreover, if Catholic principles imply decadence
it is really extraordinary that this decadence has only
begun for Catholic nations since the day when their
governments ceased to inspire those Catholic prin
ciples, especially in France. For the truth is there ;
Catholic countries are undermined by freemasons, by
Jews, and Protestants with the connivance of their
governments ; and really these governments are not
recompensed by the political greatness they have
assured their countries.
But let us return to facts, and let us ask ourselves
first if liberty does owe to Protestantism all that it is
said to do.

Speaking practically, liberty is not something vague
and indefinite ; it is the liberty of the human con
science, it is individual liberty, it is civil and political
liberty. And I maintain that the reformers of the
sixteenth century have furthered neither one nor the
other of these three liberties.
How they understood individual religious liberty I
have already shown, and I need not go over it again.
Recall the declarations of Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon,
Theodore of Beza, and others. In fact, one country
only practised liberty of conscience, and that was
France under the regime of the Edict of Nantes from
1598 to 1685. But this is not the only way in which
Protestants have violated the freedom of human con
science, there is another much more serious. It is
much to be regretted when the State intervenes in
matters of conscience in the name of a moral and
religious authority like the Church, but what can be
said when the State itself becomes the director of
consciences? And this is precisely the nature of
Protestant rule. The Middle Ages had shed much
blood to prevent the union of the spiritual and the
temporal in one authority ; and one cannot deny that
this duality is a guarantee of liberty. All the princes
who embraced the Reformation became the masters
of the souls as well as of the bodies of their subjects.
Can one dream of a more complete despotism ?
The author of the Memoire of 1802 recognises the
fact in these words : " Protestant princes have every
where become the supreme chiefs of the Church.
This circumstance has not contributed to the growth"*
of power which took place in most European govern
ments after the Reformation and which may be re
garded as a result of its influence. In Protestant
countries the immense vacuum created by the
sudden cessation of all ecclesiastical authority and
jurisdiction was promptly rilled by the civil power
which was thereby increased." *
It is especially in a writing published by Capito
in 1537 * that the explanation of this system so
humiliating to the dignity of a church and so com
promising to the liberty of consciences should be
seen. As Capito understands it, the Christian Church
becomes a kind of Musulman Khalifat. " Every
1 P. 119.
2 Responsio de missa, matrimonio et jure magistratus in religionem.
Strasbourg, 1540. Quoted by Doellinger, La Reforme, etc., vol. ii.
p. 12.
sovereign," he says, " is by right head of the Church
and the born representative of Jesus Christ in his
States." 1 This system, which since the sixteenth
century has been termed Ccesaropapism, has been
described by other Lutherans and has made those
who had any care left for the dignity of Christian
consciences complain very bitterly.
Pandocheus, superintendent at Nordhausen, said :
" Politicians have laid hands on the ecclesiastical
power. . . . Formerly, as we are taught by Scripture,
we were told : ' The Lord wishes it thus ' ; but now
we are told : ' Thus wishes the bailiff, the public re
ceiver, the baron, the mayor, etc.'"
Wigand, superintendent at Magdebourg and colla
borator with Flacius Illyricus, complained still more
bitterly of this shameful subjection of his Church :
" The religious antichrist has been replaced by the
political antichrist ; thus is founded and consoli
dated the papacy of the Caesars. . . . Should a pastor
allow himself the least criticism on such or such an
act of power just hear how they call out ; but when
our governors, in spite of their complete ignorance
in religious matters, come into our synods booted
and spurred and settle their religious questions as
they crack their whips, they do not think they are
doing anything which is not within their right, and
even think they deserve praise for so acting."
" Instead of one pope," said Flacius, " we have
now a thousand, that is as many as there are princes,
magistrates, and great lords, who all together, or
turn and turn about, exercise both ecclesiastical and
civil offices and arm themselves with the sceptre,
1 On the views of Capito with regard to the religious restraint
exercised by the State cf. Paulus, Die Strassburger Reformatoren
mill die Gewissensfreiheit. Fribourg, 1895.
the sword, and spiritual thunders to dictate to us
what doctrines we are to preach in our churches."1
More than a century later, Jurieu, wishing to bring
about an agreement between Lutherans and Calvinists,
said that this agreement could only be made
by the princes.2 " First of all, this pious work can
only be done with the help of the princes of either
party because the whole reformation is being made by
their authority. Thus for the outset one must bring
together, not the ecclesiastics who are always too
attached to their own opinions, but politicians," who
apparently, says Bossuet, will make a better busi
ness of their religion. These then " will examine the
importance of each dogma, and will weigh justly
whether such and such a proposition, supposing it
be an error, is not capable of being made to agree
or whether it may be tolerated." " That is to say,"
replies Bossuet, "that this assembly will confer on
the essentials of religion, for it must decide what
is fundamental or not, what may or may not be
tolerated. It is the great difficulty but in this diffi
culty, so essential to religion, the theologians shall
speak as lawyers, the politicians shall listen and be
the judges with the authority of the princes." " Here
then we have," says Bossuet, "princes openly be
come the sovereign arbiters of religion, with the
essentials of the faith put absolutely into their hands.
Whether this is religion or politics I leave the reader
to decide." And Jurieu adds that before all con
ference and discussion " the theologians of both
parties shall swear to obey the verdict of the dele
gates of the princes and to do nothing without
1 See the dedicatory letters which accompany the centuries
iv., v., and vii., quoted by Doellinger, vol. ii. p. 243.
2 Bossuet, Hisloire des Variations. Add to book xiv. No. 9.
general agreement." " One knows no longer," con
cludes Bossuet, " where one is or if Christians are
speaking, when one sees the fundamentals of religion
remitted to temporal authority and princes become
the judges thereof."
After the revolutionary period and the Napoleonic
wars it seemed as if the religious omnipotence of the
State was about to yield to the spirit of the new
times. But, as M. Goyau justly remarks, "Hegel,
the theorist of metaphysical Jacobinism, came just
in time to offer the State another pedestal than that
constructed by the legislators of the past." His
disciple Marheineke professed that the State and
the Church were but the two aspects of one and the
same institution ; and in fact a heavier yoke than
ever was laid on the Protestant churches.1 For ex
ample the Prussian State hands over the affairs of
the Church wholely and entirely to the Minister for
the Interior. When Friedrich-Wilhelm III. wished
to unite in one church the Lutherans and the Re
formed Party of his kingdom, he imposed on all
a common ecclesiastical institution and the same
liturgical ritual (Agenda) and enforced his measures
by the police.2
Since then, parliamentary government having
triumphed a little more or less everywhere, parlia
ments have put forward a claim to share the religious
power with the head of the State, as had been done
in England since the sixteenth century. But this
system is neither more liberal, nor less dangerous.
The modern State is still less capable than the old
one of governing the Church.3
..Therefore it is not to be wondered at that in our
1 Goyau, CAllemagne religieuse, p. 281.
Ibid. p. 282. s Hid. p. 193.
times as in the foregoing centuries really religious
and independent men have protested against such
a state of affairs. On 15th May 1886 forty-two con
servative members of the Prussian Landtag, and
among them the Pastor Stoecker, signed the follow
ing motion :" That the Chamber of Deputies decide
to address to the royal government proposals to con
sider opportune measures which, while granting greater
liberty and more independence to the Catholic Church,
will also guarantee an equivalent increase of liberty
and independence to the Evangelical Church and a
greater wealth of means to supply religious wants."1
"The whole edifice of the State Church," wrote
Pastor Stoecker, " is a contradiction with the nature of
the Church. Let us pray for sovereigns who will sup
press it. Onlythenwill Protestantism have a Church."2
Undoubtedly one does not see nowadays the
scandalous spectacle of populations obliged to change
their religion en masse at the will of a prince ; never
theless the fact remains that an old political map of
Germany in the seventeenth century gave us the
religious map of Germany to-day ; only where there
was unanimity there now exists only a majority.3
" What is to be concluded therefrom save that in
virtue of the principle cujus regio, hujus religio, faith,
in spite of Luther's doctrines, has not been a product
and inspiration of conscience but merely a livery
imposed by some prince on his subjects." 4
A livery ! This is not exactly the sign of freedom.
1 Goyau, lAllemagne religieuse, p. 190.
8 Ibid. Introduction, p. xxvi.
8 See H. A. Krose, Konfessionslatistik Deutschlands, with a map.
Fribourg-in-Breslau, 1604, in 8vo.
* Goyau, T Allemagne religieuse, p. %:
But at least has not the Reformation furthered
individual liberty ? At the time it broke out, serfdom
was gradually decreasing and alreadyJanssen and
others have shown thisthe peasants were free in the
greater part of Germany. Luther appears on the
scene : a wave of independence passed over the heads
of the peasants ; they rise and are crushed : then a
yoke of iron is placed on them. Was this merely the
ephemeral reaction of the moment ? No, the move
ment of serfdom continues right into the seventeenth
At the diet of Mecklembourg in 1607, the peasants
were declared to be mere ciphers, who were to give
up to the masters of the soil at their demand the
acres of land which they had possessed from time
The liberty of these persons was suppressed by the
ordonnances of 1633, 1648, and 1654. They tried to
evade their hard lot by flight. Emigration was con
siderable. The most severe penalties, the whip, the
carcan, even death, did not arrest its course or hinder
the depopulation of the countryside. The fate of
these unhappy slaves, it may well be said, hardly
differed from that of the blacks. The only difference
was that it was forbidden to separate them from their
families or to sell them to the highest bidder in a
public auction ; yet this law was often eluded and
the serfs were often trafficked like horses or cows.
In Mecklembourg serfdom was not abolished until
The introduction of the Reformation in Pomerania
caused the renewal of a similar slavery. The law of
1616 decreed that all peasants were serfs without
1 Boll, Histoire de Mecklembourg, 1855, vol L 358, vol. ii.
147, 148, 569, quoted by Doellinger, FEgltir
claims of any sort. Preachers were obliged to de
nounce from their pulpits the peasant who had taken
refuge in flight.1
Under Frederich II., in Prussia in the second half
of the eighteenth century, at the time when Voltaire
had pleaded so nobly for the serfs of the abbey of
Saint-Claude, the soldiers after having carried arms
and gained the victories which have made modern
Prussia, were delivered up to their territorial lords,
not only they, but also their wives, widows, and
children, although born in a state of freedom.2
The Lutheran Reformation produced the same
results in every country where it was established.
You know that in Sweden the liberty of the peasants
was the price the king paid for the assistance of the
nobility in the accomplishment of the religious
revolution. In Denmark and in Norway the nobles
followed this example. In Denmark the peasant
was subjected to serfdom like a dog. "Enforced
labour," says the historian Allen, " was increased
arbitrarily, the peasants were treated like serfs." As
late as 1804, personal liberty was granted to twenty
thousand families of serfs.3
It must be admitted that Calvinism did not pro
duce such disastrous results. Having arisen in Geneva,
a free and popular State, it retained some of its
characteristics. But we know the narrow and jealous
supervision which it exercises over individuals even
in their private lives ; the sway of Calvin at Geneva
and that of Knox in Scotland was that of a brutal
1 Barthold, Histoire de la Pomeranie, iv. 359, quoted by
Doellinger, ibid. pp. 81, 82.
2 Ordinance of 7th April 1777. G. Doellinger, L'Eglise et les
eglises, p. 87.
8 Doellinger, ibid., after Allen, p. 70 sqq.
inquisition of which the favourite instrument was
domestic spying. Carried over to America the
English Puritans kept and aggravated these exclusive
and tyrannical ways.
There still remains political liberty. No doubt
Protestantism will now take its revenge. " These
ideas that man is his own master, that he is free,"
says M. de Laveleye, " that one cannot demand a
service or a contribution without his express consent,
that the government, justice, and power, all are
derived from the people, this set of principles which
modern society seeks to apply were stifled in the
Middle Ages by feudalism but have regained life in
Switzerland, England, Holland, and the United
And how has this miracle been performed, this
resurrection been brought about?
" It is thanks to the democratic element of the
Reformation, and it is only in Protestant countries
that order and prosperity are assured.
" Had France not persecuted, crushed, or exiled
those of her children who had been converted to
Protestantism, she could have developed these germs
of liberty and of self-government which were nurtured
in the provincial states."1 All this is historically
false, and one cannot help wondering that a man so
well read as M. de Laveleye, dared to bring forward
such unauthenticated assertion.
First, it is not true that the Middle Ages were a
time of political servitude. Public life was in a state
of rare activity, partly because of the dividing up of
authority, of privileges obtained and consented to by
powerful and rival institutions. What a fund of
1 L'avenir des peuples calholiques, new ed. p. 58.
liberty in the Italian republics ! What independence
in the provinces of Spain ! What democratic fever
and ofttimes turbulence in the large cities of the
Netherlands ! Were not German towns small and
very free republics ? In France too what a counter
balance to royal authority ! It is not until the four
teenth century that the scales swing decidedly in
favour of central power, and the whole is not finally
evolved until the sixteenth century. But it was
complete when Protestantism broke out, and the
latter crowned it by strengthening, by resistance,
and by imitation, the authority of the sovereign in
the Church. Moreover, if at first the French
Calvinists seemed to favour liberty, it was only
when the royal power was against them. From the
day the heir to the throne was a Protestant they
quickly cast all their liberal and democratic theories
to the winds and began to preach the doctrine of
absolute legitimacy and of passive obedience to the
sovereign, whoever he may be ; it was then the
Catholics' turn and the Leagues' in particular to
revive their abandoned theories on the national
M. de Laveleye does not mention Germany or
Scandinavia, and to speak frankly he is right.
In his Commentary on the Canticle of Canticles
Luther writes : " Princes must know that they reign
over rebellious subjects who only await a favourable
opportunity for revolt, and that those who are at the
head of affairs cannot do better than find out the best
way of overcoming and mastering the crowd." And
Melanchthon, as usual, echoes his words : " Such a
wild and badly reared nation as the Germans have
more freedom than they ought to have," he said.
This advice was followed to the letter. The absolut
ism of princes was not strengthened only by the
union of the spiritual with the temporal power. The
seizure of ecclesiastical property enabled them to do
without financial help from their Estates, and thus to
complete the destruction of public liberty. This is
what happened especially in Mecklembourg, Pomerania,
in the duchies of Hanover, Brunswick, and
Saxony. The Prussian state of Brandenbourg is one
of the most remarkable of these results. During the
reign of the Grand Elector Friedrich Wilhelm (1640-
1688), absolute and arbitrary power was consistently
developed. After 1656 no general diet was assembled ;
taxes were imposed by the princes and exacted by the
military, so successfully that peasants and even nobles
went over to Poland. "Prussia," according to the
historian Stenzel, " was in a fair way to become like
an Asiatic state where despotism stifles all that is
noble and good."1
The very principle cujus regio, hujus religio helped
to place under the safeguard of respectable rights
of conscience both the old divisions of Germany
and the most antiquated institutions of bygone
A Protestant historian, M. Georges Pariset, in
his important work on UEtat et les Eglises eii
Prusse sous Frederic, recently reached this conclu
sion: "Nowadays it is those countries which adopted
the Reformation whose political evolution is the least
In Scandinavia as in Germany Lutheranism was
only advantageous to the sovereign and the aristocracy.
After the revolution of 1660, Frederick III., King
of Denmark, and his successors declared themselves
1 Histoire dcs Etals Prussieus, vol. ii. p. 456, quoted by Abbe
Martin, De fatienir du Protestantisme et du Catholicisme, p. 334.
absolute monarchs. The royal law of 1665 proclaimed
that the king need take no oath, recognise no obliga
tion of any kind, but could do all he pleased with full
and entire authority. In Sweden it was but a series
of revolutions provoked by the antagonism of the
beneficiaries of the surreptitious introduction of Pro
testantismroyalty and the nobility. But royalty
won the upper hand. In 1680 the Estates declared
that the king was bound by no kind of government ;
in 1682 that they considered it an absurdity that the
sovereign should be obliged by statutes and laws to
be advised by the States ; the latter changed their
name from States of the kingdom into that of States
of His Royal Majesty ; in 1690 the absolute autocracy
of the king became law, and it was so until the dis
asters and the death of Charles XII. brought about
strife and the alternate victories of the aristocracy
and the sovereign.1
Can we then be surprised to find these words in
the mouth of Lord Molesworth in 1892 : " All the
people of Protestant countries have lost their liberty
since they changed their religion for a better."
Moreover, Lord Molesworth perceives the cause of
this fall of liberty which is so noticeable : " In the
Roman Catholic religion, with its supreme head of
the Church at Rome, there exists a principle of op
position to unlimited political power."2 Donoso
Cortes, who was so unjustly accused of paradox,
expressed this same thought later : " The Civil power
is to be found increasing wherever the Church is
losing ground and this is so evident that there can
be no doubt of it ; Civil despotism prevails in those
countries where the power of the Church is oppressed
1 Abb6 Martin, according to Geijer, p. 333.
2 Quoted by Doellinger, TEglise et les eglises, p. 72.
and the surest guarantee of the liberty of mankind is
the independence of the Church." *
This explains the hostile attitude so often taken by
the Civil power in the majority of Catholic States
with regard to the Church, and its alliance with the
nonconformists, an alliance as fatal to liberty as it
is to morals, as we have evidence before our eyes
every day.
It may be urged, however, that it is a notable fact
that, in some countries at least, Protestantism and
liberty have advanced hand in hand. Yes, when
historical events permitted or exacted the develop
ment of liberty I admit that Protestantism has not
hindered it ; Protestant and especially Calvinistic in
dividualism has even to a certain extent helped on
the cause of liberty. Protestantism has been easily
accepted by certain races or by certain nations pre
cisely because in virtue of natural instincts or previous
development they were profoundly individualistic.
For where outside the two little countries of
Holland and Switzerland are Protestantism and
political liberty in agreement ? In those nations
which are of Anglo-Saxon origin, in England, and
in North America, which is a colony of England.
It is superfluous to point out that the progress of
public liberty in England began before the Reforma
tion ; however far back one goes at least the germs of
liberty are to be found, and it is under the wing of
the Catholic Church that England, during a thousand
years, acquired its institutions, its Parliament, its
Universities, and all those things of which she is so
justly proud. She was once the Island of Saints,
and the great voice of the Roman Church still
1 Donoso Cortes, speech quoted by the AbW Martin, De Cavenir
du Protestantisme et du Catholicisme, p. 335.
echoes in her land where so many monuments and
ruins exist. Catholic England of the thirteenth,
fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries was more free
than Protestant England of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries : Henry VIII., Elizabeth,
James I., and Cromwell can hardly be counted as
champions of liberty.
There is a celebrated page in Quinet in Le
Christianisme et la Revolution, on the origin of liberty
in the United States : " A few forlorn men arrive on
the coast of North America ; poor, nameless, and
without a past they carry but one book with them :
it is the Bible. They open it on the shore and
immediately begin to raise the new city on the plan
of the book restored by Luther. . . . All American
institutions bear the impress of the seal of the
Reformation, for each of the founders goes apart into
the depths of the forests, there he is the king of
a little world, he is the monarch of a physical and
moral universe. Nature and the Bible guide him.
In this immensity he is himself a Church ; priest,
king, and artisan all together, he baptises his children ;
he marries them. Gradually other similar sovereigns
reach his borders almost imperceptibly ; the inter
spaces are filled ; the cabin develops into a village
and the village into a town. Society is evolved
without the individual yielding any of his power.
The Gospel which is everywhere open to all is the
primitive bond of these hermits, and makes them the
citizens of a republic of peers." l
There is a great deal of poetry in this page and
some truth.
But it would not be just to see only Protestantism
in the foundation and evolution of the Great Re
1 Le Christianisme et la Revolution, p. 291.
public. Catholics have also taken a part in the
proceedings ; who but they called for liberty of
conscience when the sects were persecuting one
another and the Protestant farmers were being
chased from the mother country by other Pro
testants ? as happened in Maryland, the state
founded by Lord Baltimore. " It is curious," says
a Protestant author, Professor Walters of Phila
delphia, " to notice how at this time the Puritans
persecuted their Protestant brothers in New
England, how the Episcopalians used the same
severity towards the Puritans in Virginia, and how
the Catholics, against whom all were leagued, made a
sanctuary in Maryland, where every man might wor
ship as he pleased, where nobody was oppressed,
and where Protestants were able to take refuge from
Protestant intolerance."
It is true that later, when, after the death of Lord
Baltimore, the Protestants seized the power in
Maryland, religious liberty was suppressed. " In
a country opened by Catholics to Protestants," says
M. Baird, an American minister, "the Catholics
were the only victims of Anglican intolerance."
According to Tocqueville the Irish Catholic
emigration was the most republican and the most
" I think it is a mistake," says this great thinker,
"to look upon the Catholic religion as a natural
enemy of democracy. Among different Christian
doctrines Catholicism, on the contrary, seems to me
to be one of the most favourable to equality of con
dition. ... In dogma Catholicism places all intelli
gences on the same level ; the learned and the ignorant,
the man of genius and the vulgar are bound down to
the same detail of belief, the same practices are im
posed on rich as well as poor, the same austerities on
strong and on weak ; Catholicism compromises with
no man, and by applying the same measure to each
mortal it manages to unite all classes of society at the
foot of the same altar as they are united in the eyes
of God."
As for Holland, constituted as she was by the
struggle against a sovereign, looked upon as a stranger,
and possessing no dynasty, it is not very surprising
that she became a republic, but this republic was in
the hands of a common aristocracy, and the democracy
inclined to give back the power to the House of
Orange. Holland, Calvinistic though she be, would
not have triumphed over Spain without the help of
England and of France. And if she has founded an
immense colonial empire it is not because she is
Calvinistic ; Catholic Portugal did as much before
Switzerland, no more than England, did not wait
for the Reformation to become a free country ; and
it is a fact to be noticed that the cantons which were
the cradle of Swiss independence are precisely those
which have remained Catholic ; in the hope of over
coming them the Protestant cantons have often tried
to destroy local liberty and to strengthen the central
Thus Protestantism does not appear to have been
the principal factor of political liberty any more than
of other liberties.

Time presses. I shall not say much about material
prosperity as compared between Catholic and Pro
testant nations. To speak the truth, I might reply
by a preliminary question. When the Pastor Roussel
establishes by figures and memorandums that the
Protestants of Paris pay three times more taxes than
the other inhabitants, and seems to affirm thereby that
they are three times more virtuous and their religion
trebly true ; when M. de Laveleye exclaims : " Com
pare the Stock Exchange quotations in Protestant
and Catholic states and notice the difference. The
English 3 per cent. exceeds 92, the French 3 per cent,
is nearly as low as 60 ! " (which in 1871 was more prob
ably due to the war of 1870 than to religious difference) ;
I might very well ask them if Christ suffered and died
to increase the capital of His faithful and to raise per
centages ? 1
Mr John Lemoine, who is not suspected of being
excessively partial to Catholicism, could not resist
discussing very cleverly and very sharply the asser
tions made by M. Napoleon Roussel. " M. Roussel,"
he remarks in the Journal des Debats, " tries to prove
by a great show of figures that Protestants are much
happier than Catholics in this world ; that they possess
larger incomes, greater industries, more plate and
silver, more shirts and more boots. Hitherto we
have always believed that at the Last Day God
would place the good on one side and the bad on the
other ; but according to M. Roussel's system humanity
is divided into two classes, one composed of fat people
and the other of thin. God will not search our hearts
but our stomachs. If this is the only moral the
minister of the Gospel has to preach to the world, if
there is no other conclusion he can draw from history,
man cannot do better than feed himself up, and take
1 Besides, these things vary according to circumstances. M. R. G.
L6vy, in the Revue des Deux Mondes (1st September 1902) Deficits,
et excedenls des budgets europiens, tells us that " credit in Italy and
Spain is increasing remarkably, whilst in France, England, and
Germany it is on the decline."
care of himself and his business ; the richest will
always be the most virtuous. Such reading is heart
I might also show up the reverse side of this
industrial wealth with which Protestants are said to
have the monopoly, and I might recall how it is often
dearly bought at the price of happiness and morality.1
Mme. Brunhes, a woman of talent and sympathy,
quite recently gave us new proofs of this fact in
an essay published by the Quinzaine (Fortnightly).2
With M. Le Play in Reforme sociale I will reiterate
this great truth : " Experience agrees with many old
axioms in teaching us that the accumulation of wealth
by unworthy hands and a too exclusive application to
material interests are certain causes of decline. . . .
A nation becomes less great by perfecting the pro
duction of utilitarian objects than by striving to rule
its appetites and overcoming its passions."8
Above all I should like it to be understood that if
religion is not the unique cause of a nation's morality,
neither can it be the principal cause of its temporal
prosperity. The latter depends on many conditions
of geography, history, race, climate, situation, and
political power. The true religion will not fertilise
a soil that is naturally sterile, nor will it fill the interior
of the earth with coal and ore.
For centuries the greatest nations were those near
the Mediterranean, where the cultivation of the soil
required a supreme individual effort, thereby develop
ing personal energy. Then came the industrial age,
when England and Germany, which possessed abund
1 See for England especially Leon Faucher, Etudes sur F Angleterre,
vol. i.
Number for 16th March 1904.
3 Introduction, vol. i. p. 12.
ant coal mines, had the advantage over those which
possessed none. Perhaps " white coal " will alter
things again.
Neither will the true religion annihilate, although
it may lessen the effects of a tropical climate. The
superiority of northern populations over the southern
is to be accounted for by the fact that the continuous
heat is enervating, and that the almost spontaneous
fertilisation of the soil is not conducive to work.
The Sicilians or Neapolitans would not become
indefatigable workers if they were to adopt the thirtynine
articles. If the English submitted themselves
to the Pope the commerce of Sheffield and Man
chester would not lose in importance. The Reforma
tion did not make the Swedes or Norwegians an
industrial people any more than it did the Germans
in days gone by. If Germany has nowadays become
a powerful and industrial country the Catholic of
the Rhenish Provinces is as good as the Protestant
of Saxony.
M. de Laveleye forces an unfavourable comparison
between the Protestant cantons of Latin race and
the Catholic cantons of German origin in Switzer
land : " The first," he says, " are far better than the
latter with regard to education, literature, arts and
sciences, industry, commerce, wealth, cleanliness, in
a word with regard to civilisation in all its aspects
and acceptations. The first are Latin but Protestant,
the latter Teutonic but subject to Rome. Therefore
it is cult and not race which is the reason of their
superiority. Let us look at one cantonthat of
Appenzellwhich is inhabited entirely by the same
Teutonic population. Between inner Catholic Rhodes
and outer Protestant Rhodes there is exactly the
same contrast as between the inhabitants of Neuf
chiitel and those of Lucerne and Uri. . . . Hence again
it is cult and not race which is the cause of the
superiority of one over the other." 1
At least, M. de Laveleye, if it be not the situation ;
there is some impertinence in comparing the fertile
and smiling lands on the shores of Lakes Geneva and
Neufchatel with the mountains of Haut-Valais, and
Lausanne with Zermatt. And this appalling parallel
between inner and outer Rhodes in the canton of
Appenzell might well be dealt with in the same way.
Outer Rhodes consists of the charming valleys and
hills which slope gently towards Lake Constance ;
Inner Rhodes is high mountainland. And Mr Hepworth
Dixon, on whose authority M. de Laveleye
leans for support, appears to have noticed this fact
although he draws the same conclusions : " Compare,"
he writes, " a Protestant canton to a Catholic one.
For example Appenzell, Inner Rhodes to Outer
Rhodes and judge for yourself with a thorough know
ledge of the matter. There is as much difference
between these two half cantons as between Berne
and Valais. In the lower part of the country the
villages are constructed in wood, it is true, but all
is neat and nice-looking. . . . Climbing plants cover
the walls. . . . Urchins sing on their way to school.
The streets are clean, the markets are well filled, and
all the folk well dressed. On tlte mountains it is just
the contrary. Poverty and desolation reign."
What accumulations of dirty rubbish there must
be in the villages of M. de Laveleye 's native country
during the twenty years that Catholics have been
in power !
Like Mr Hepworth Dixon, M. de Laveleye forgets
to tell us that in this enchanted land of Outer Rhodes
1 Op tit. p. 5.
there are 14 suicides to every 100,000 inhabitants and
87 divorces for 1000 marriages, while in poor Inner
Rhodes there is only 1 suicide to 100,000 inhabitants
and 14 divorces for 1000 marriages.1
God would have subjected the true faith to too
great a trial if He had permitted that in the social
progress of things, all the good things of this world
were entirely on the side of error. But it is not so,
even in a purely economical order. It may happen,
and it does happen, that Protestants, like the Jews,
being more entirely preoccupied with the things
of this world, are better business men than good
Catholics. I do not want to appear unkind in re
minding them of the words of our Lord, that " the
children of this world are wiser in their generation
than the children of light." 2 But looking at things
altogether, with all other conditions equal, one
cannot assert the inferiority of Catholic nations be
cause they are Catholic. France is a great power
from an economical point of view ; as for Belgium,
she is almost at the head of industrial nations and
is far in advance of the Dutch Netherlands. In
Switzerland the Catholic canton of Fribourg is a
model of initiative and activity in every way. And
to return to the comparison just quoted, even poor
Valais is not really so poor. A few years ago the
conferences of the Swiss branch of the Society of Saint
Vincent de Paul were held at Saint-Moritz, and it
was declared by the members of these conferences
that they did not know how to employ their re
sources or their time in Valais, for they had no poor?
1 See the statistics given on pp. 55, 8 1 , and 98 in Krose, Der Emfluss
der Konfession auf die Sittlichkeit. * St Luke ch. xvi. ver. 8.
8 Quoted by the Abbe Martin, De ravenir du Protest anlUtne et du
Catholicisme, p. 197.
When will one be able to say the same of these
great industrial centres which are so proudly boasted
My task is finished. As I had intended to do, I
have shown you, without ever losing sight of history,
that the problems set by the sixteenth century are as
active and important as ever in our own days. 1
denounced to youand I do so again at the con
clusion of these lecturesthe attempt made by certain
revolutionary spirits, united to Protestants and aided
by unconscious Catholic allies, to protestantise France
either openly or by subtle assaults on the intellect.
A clever ruse, because Protestantism satisfies all the
instincts of revolt and, moreover, makes use of the
need of religion and the sense of the divine which
is innate in all men. Nearly thirty years ago,
M. de Laveleye wrote : " In religion one only an
nihilates1 what can be replaced." And lately
M. Yves Guyot takes up the same idea. Both
echo the same sentiments of Edgar Quinet, the
prophet some years ago so willingly invoked by our
He found fault with the Revolution, as you know,
for not having supplied a new worship in place of the
old one and for not having used force to do so.
" Force," he wrote to Eugene Sue, " is the only means
which has succeeded in overcoming an ancient belief.
All religions which have disappeared from the face of
the earth have done so by force and authority ; while
on the contrary there has not been one, however
foolish and absurd, which has ever been dethroned
and extirpated by liberty of discussion only. The
whole world repeats that force is useless against
1 Kills by substituting one belief for another.
belief and the whole world is witness to the con
And he adds in his History of the Revolution : "If
Luther and Calvin had been content to establish
liberty of worship without adding anything there
would never have been any religious revolution in
the sixteenth century.
" What did they do then ? Just this : after having
condemned the old religious institutions they admitted
others, on which they built new societies. . . . All,
without exception, looked upon the old religion as an
enemy, or at least veiled it and put it away for as
long as seemed necessary to impress other moral
habits, another spirit on the nation. . . . That is how
all the societies which have broken with the past
have succeeded by changing not only their outer
appearance, but their inner spirit, the only revolution,
speaking truthfully, which deserves the name. This
is just what the Revolution did not dare undertake :
that was it ; capital crime ; that was what it
should have dared. ' Oh John Huss, oh Luther,
Zwingli, Savonarola, Arnold of Brescia ! humble
monks ! poor hermits ! Give courage to these un
fettered tribunes. ... If great Mirabeau and the
Constituants were too timid to follow in your steps
lend your help to those who are come after tliem.' "2
Lend your help to those who are come after them !
The words have been spread abroad : it was taken
up by the revolutionaries of to-day, by those who at
the Bern Congress in 1868 made this significant state
ment by one of their members : " It is not to be held
that each may choose his belief ; man has no right to
1 Letter on the religious and moral situation of Europe by Edgar
Quinet to Eugene Sue, 1856, quoted by the Abbe Martin, p. 456.
2 La Revolution, by Edgar Quinet, vol. i. book v., Religion.
remain attached to error (apply to Catholicism) :
liberty of conscience is but a weapon" l
What has so long been said in a whisper is now
proclaimed aloud, and for twenty-five years its ac
complishment has been aimed at. That liberal
Protestants either in politics or in the Universities
should have become the agents of this revolution
which was to terminate in the triumph of their teach
ing is not to be wondered at nor even to be blamed if
they do not proceed hypocritically.
But it is our right and our duty to resist them.
We do not wish to become Protestants, not only
because we do not believe that Protestantism is the
trueformof Christianity, but becausemy wholeambition
is to have given you the proofProtestantism does
not possess that boasted superiority over Catholicism,
neither in the moral, intellectual, nor social order.
Left to itself and if it does not react against its own
principles it cannot be other than an instrument of
And now I must turn to our separated brethren,
who in the sincerity of their souls declare and believe
themselves to be Christians, and I will say to them :
If the men who founded ProtestantismLuther,
Calvin, Zwingliwere inspired of God, and that you
must believe if you are a really Christian Protestant
how is it that you have changed their creeds in a
manner they would never have allowed ? How is it
that their work is so completely the opposite of what
they would have wished and foreseen ? God does
not contradict Himself.
Or if these men were rebels and heretics towards the
Church founded by Jesus Christand it is we who
teach thisthen if you wish to become Christians
1 Quoted by Abbe Martin, p. 241.
you must submit to the Church against which they
Or again, if these men were simply religious thinkers
who humanly accomplished a purely human work,
and this is what the most logical among you believe,
then you must believe like them that dogma changes,
that religious knowledge is merely suggestive and
symbolical, that it admits all present and possible
contingencies of private interpretation. But in this
case you are no longer Christian.
That the work of the first reformers was a purely
human undertaking and that in time it would end by
denying even the fundamental doctrines of Christianity
is precisely the verdict given by the authorities of the
Church four centuries ago. After all they did not
do anything but say, like the Protestants of to-day,
of the Lutheran and Calvinistic doctrines, of the
Confessions of Augsbourg and of La Rochelle :
" This system is condemned."
If you do not see anythingand you cannot see
morein the first work of the reformers but a human
work, well then ! be logical ; come back to the
Roman Church or give up Christianity, be Catholics
or Free Thinkers.
But rather, because I am a priest and not merely
a historian and critic, and because I know that you
love Jesus Christ and I will not leave you any
alternative, I will, like Father Denifle at the end
of his great work on Luther and Lutheranism, cry
out to you from the bottom of my heart :
" Los von Luther, zuriich zur Kirche."
"Be quit of Luther, return to the Church."
Adrian VI., 83, 238
/Eneas Sylvius, 17
Agnello of Pisa, 5
Agricola, 33
Aix, 127
Alber, 275
Albergati, 55
Alberto de Carpie, Prince, 51, 52
Albrecht of Mainz, 66, 93
Aleandrc, 43, 68, 173, 176
Alexander VI., 40, 64, 86
Alphonso of Naples, I 1
Amiata, 14
Amsdorf, 240
Anabaptists, 192, 206, 268, 275
Andrew, Jacob, 24 1
Angelico, Fra, 9
Angelus Politianus, 38
Arianism, 78
Aristotle, 57, 66, 276
Arundel, Sir John, 209
Augustine, Saint, 14, 58, 113
Avignon, 83
Babylon, 99, 133
Baduel, 43, 44
Bale (or Basel, or Basle), Council of,
28, 34, 73. 8S. 86
Balmes, 227
Bartholomeus, 34
Bartholomew, Saint, Massacre of, 122,
136, 205, 218
Baumgart, 279
Baur, 291
Beccadelli, 17, 59
Bellarmin, 266
Bellay of Paris, 68
Benedictines, 22
Benivieni, 23
Bernadine of Sienna, Saint, 22
Bern, Council of, 206
Bessarion, 55
Beza, 302
Bible, 32, 211, 264, 315
Blondus (Flavio Biondo), 55
Baccacio, 10
Boniface VIII., 53, 72
IX., S8
Borromeus, Saint Charles, 178
Bossuet, 119, 229, 266, 290, 305, 306
Bourbons, The, 138
Bourdeille, Pierre de, 124
Brian, 214
Briconnct, Bishop of Meaux, 48, 68
Brunelleschi, 8
Brunhes, Mme., 319
Bucer, 43, 233, 242
Bude, 43, 43, 48
Burckhardt, 3, 22
Bussy d'Amboise, 124
Caktani, 136
Calixtus III., 59, 60 sqq, 70
Calvin, 49, 81, 108, 113, 115 sq, 152,
193, 206, 229, 302, 324
Campion, Edw., 212 sq
Capistran, Saint John, 86
Capito, Fabricius, 51, 242, 303
Capranica, 55
Capuchins, 134, 135, 159, 181
Caraffa, Cardinal, 156, 172, 175, 176,
Castelnau, Michel de, 134, 140, 142
Cesarini, 55, 86
Chalcondyles, 38
Charles V., 194 sqq
VIII., 28, 145, 150
IX., II4, 122, 131, 204, 207
Christian II., 103
III., 104
Crotus Rubeanus, 34, 37, 269
Chrysoloras, 55
Clement VII., 71, 178
Clichtoue, 48
Colet, 29, 38 sq, 67
Coligny, 122, 130, 205
Colluccio Salutati, 15
Cologne, 34, 37
Conde, 130, 205
Constance, Council of, 19, 54, 58, 73,
Constantinople, 57
Contarini, 172, 173
Conventuals, 22
Cop, 48
Copenhagen, Diet of, 104
Cosmo de Medici, II, 56
Cromwell, 216, 301, 315
Cusa, Nicholas of, 49, 66, 86
Dante, 23
D'Aubigne, 130
Denifle, Father, 326, 328
Denmark, 103
Descartes, 266
Diane de Poitiers, 125
Doellinger, 82, 227, 270, 274
Duplessis*Mornay, 130
Dilrer, Albert, 28
Germany, 4, 11, 25, 31, 86, 87, 100
1 10, 200, 265
Geyler of Kaiserberg, 92
Gonzaga, Giovanni Francesco de, 1 1
Goyau, Georges, 228, 249, 250 sqq, 287
sqq, 290 sqq
Green, the historian, 39
Gregory XII., 54
XIII., 177, 179, 20S
Grocyn, 38, 39
Guiddaccioni, Cardinal, 158
Guirand, 21
Guises, 128, 138
Gustavas Vasa, IOI sqq
ECK, JOhann, 35
Edward VI., 100, 200
Eichorn, 285 sq
Eisenach, Conference of, 249
Elizabeth, Queen, 101, 136, 200, 209,
Eoban Hesse, 34, 37
Erasmus, 30, 35, 38, 43, 51, 67, 233,
234, 269, 275
Erfurth, 34, 37, 269
Eugenius IV., 55, 56, 59, 86
Evers, 82
Fagel, 208
Farel, 48
Ferdinand (or Ferrantc), 7
i II., 193
Filelfo, 17, 21, 59
Fischart, Johan, 278
Fischer, Christopher, 241
Fisher of Rochester, 67
Florence, 8, 19, 23, 38, 39, 55, 56
France, 26, 27, 40, III, 200
Francis I., 28, 40 41, 68, 119, 125,
Francis II., 52, 114
Franciscans, 22, 2 1 7
Frederick II., 4, 309
Frederick, Duke of Urbino, II
Haller, Wolfgang, 273
Harnack, 262, 284, 290, 293
Haulleville, Baron, 227
Holbeins, 28
Hegel, 287, 306
Hegins, Alexander, 33
Heidelberg, 33, 34, 66
Henry II., 114, 119, 120, 135, 213
III., 122, 124, 131, 135, 138
,, IV., 106, 108, 115, 126, 129, 138,
142, 147
,, VIII., 40, ico, 200
Henri de Guise, 141
Hepworth, Dixon, 321
Herder, 285
Hermann Busch, 34
Heylin von Stein, 34
Holy Office, 157
Homer, 56
Hubner, Baron von, 221
Huguenots, 121 sq, 132, 204, 220
Hulst, Mgr. d', 183, 185
Hungary, 25
Huss, John, 84, 92
Iceland, 104
Ignatius Loyola, Saint, 152, 161, 162,
166, 167, 170
Illyricus, 273, 304
Index, Congregation of, 1 57
Innocent VII., 53, 69
Inquisition, 156 sqq, 194 sqq, 200, 221
Italy, 4, 7, 23, 25, 27, 33, 118. 194,
Ivry, 144
Gebhardt, M., 250, 251
Gerard Koussel, 48
James I., 315
II., 208
Janotus de Bfagmardo, 44, 45
Janssen, 31, S3. 82, 277
Jeanne d'Albret, 137
Jesuits, 73. 34. i5, *58 sq, 161 sq,
187, 179, 180
Jesuits, constitutions of, 162
Jesus Christ, 19, 23, 28, 39, 40, 82,
135, 153, 168, 171, 237, 241, 268,
283, 318, 326
Jerome of Prague, 20, 84
Johann von Dalberg, 34, 66
Wesel, 92
Goch, 92
Julius II., 64, 86
Jurieu, 305 sqq
Kant, Emmanuel, 286 sqq
Kattenbusch, 294
Knox, 229, 309
Kiihne, 251
Laoarde, Paul de, 262
Landriani, 158
Langton of Winchester, 67
Lapo de Castiglionchio, 20
Lateran Council, V., 86
Latimer, 203
Laveleye, Emilc de, 225 sqq, 228, 230
sqq, 299 sqq, 310 sq, 318 sq
League, 137 sq, 143 sq
Lefevre d'Etaples, 48
Lemoine, John, 318
Lemonnier, 42
Leo X., 12, 64, 65, 70, 71, 86, 179
Leonardo Aretius, 21
Leonardo Bruni, 54
Le Play, 319
Lessing, 283 sqq
Linacre, 38
London, 40
Lorenzo Valla, 17, 22, 59
Lorraine, Cardinal Charles de, 69, 1 1 1 ,
125, 205
Lorraine, Cardinal Louis de, 129
Loschi, Antonio, 54
Louis XII., 28
XIV., 256
XV., 256
Louis of Bavaria, 83
Louvre, 9
Luther, 26, 37, 38, 49, 81, 92, 93 Wi
108, 113, 115, l6o, l89J?, 224 *?,
229, 232 sqq, 242 sqq, 267 sqq, 299
sqq, 302, 324
Macaulay, 216
Machiavelli, 23, 120
Maine, Cuthbert, 210 sqq
Maistre, Joseph de, 187, 200
Mantua, II
Manuce, 43
Marcellus II., 176, 180
Marguerite de Navarre, 29, 30, 48
,, Valois, 119
Marsilio Ficino, 19, 49
Marsuppini, 59
Martin V., 54, 55, 84
Mary Tudor, 200, 203
Massarelli, 172
Maternus Pistorius, 34
Maximilian, Emperor, 88, 91
Meaux, M. de, 130, 209
Medici, II, 19
,, Catherine de, 121, 122, 131,
204, 20s, 221
Medici, Cosmo de, 1 1, 56
Melanchthon, 43, 189, 233, 235, 242 sq,
261, 269, 302, 311
Michel de l'Hospital, 128
Afichiladc, 219
Michelet, 3, 9, 24
Milton, 229, 231
Molina, Vasquez de, 194
Montmorency, Constable de, 52
More, Thomas, 29, 38, 40
Morone, 156
Morosini, 112, 1 17, 123
Mutian, 34, 37
Nantes, Edict of, 127, 191, 207,
215, 302
Naples, 7
Newman, Cardinal, 80
Nicolas V., 56 sqq, 59, 60, 63, 70, 73
Nicolas Russ, 92
Norkseping, Diet of, 207
Noue, la, 130
NUrnberg, 27, 28
Olympus, 65
Orange, Prince of, 208
Orleans, 137, 218
Orsini, 55
Ortwin Gratius, 34
Oxford, 38, 39, 40, 67
Ozanam, 8
Palestrina, 180
Pall Mall Gazette, 257
Panormita of Palermo, 17, 19
Paris, 43, 126, 127, 137 145, 152
Pastor, 23, 57
Paul II., 60, 61, 63 sq, 70, 86
III.. 156, 158, 172, 175
IV., 196
Petit, Guillaume, 42
Petrarch, 10, 18, 33
Perraud, Cardinal, xxii., 263
Peutinger, 34
Philip II., King, 196, 198, 199
III.. 145
of Nervi, Saint, 166 so, 178
Philippe le Bel, 72, 83
Pico della Mirandola 34, 38
Pietro Bembo, 12
Pirckheimer, 34, 238^, 271
Pisa, Council of, 73
Pius II., 14, 60, 70, 86
IV., 156, 157, 160
V., 156, 176, 204
Platina, 61, 63, 64
Plato, 29, 49, 57, 66, 239
Toggio, 15, 17, 16, 20, 21, 54, 55, 58
Poland, 25
Polo, Cardinal, 172, 175
Poltrot de Mere, 131
Pomponius Laetus, 19, 62, 63
Poncher.Etienne, 42, 48, 68
Potken, Adam, 34
Presseuse, 296
Primaticcio, 26
Prospero Colonna, 55
Protestantism, 26, 78 sqq, IOI sq, no
sq, 128 sq, 154 sq, 188 sq, 200, 216
so, 223 sqq, 254 sqq, 265 sqq, 268,
281, 298 sqq, 310
QUInKT.3I5, 323
Rabelais, 15, 29,43,44^, in, 152,
Ranke, 165, 177, 180
Regnier dc la Planche, 52
Reuchlin, 34, 37,93, 271
Reuss, 292
Ridley, 203
Rinaldo degli Albriui, 19
Ritschl, 287, 289, 294
Robespierre, 229
Rodolphus Agricola, 33, 34
Roland Taylor, 201 sq
Rome, 7, 53, 55, 56, 64, 66, 71. 74, 83,
93, 100, 150, 172, 175, 181, 210,
225, 299
Ronsard, 124
Rosso, 26
Roussel, M. Napoleon, 225, 318
Sabatier, M. Augusts, 282
Saint Angelo, 62
Saint Moritz, 322
Sales, Saint Francis of, 148, 165
Sadolet, 12, 172, 175
Saragossa, Archbishop of, 20
Saulx-Tavannes, 121, 128
Savonarola, 40, 86
Savoy, Duchess of, 121
Schlays, 279
Schleiermacher, 287, 288 sq
Schoell, 101
Schoen, Heinrich, 289
Sebald, Saint, 27
Seger, John, 280
Semler, 285
Sens, Synod of, 124
Servet, Michel, 189, 206, 276
Sforza, House of, 6
,, Francesco, 6
Shakespeare, 266
Sicilies, 4
Sixtus IV., 63, 64, 70, 71, 86
.. V., 144
Slade, 292
Sorbonne, 30, 42, 44, 48, 1 16, 263
Spain, 25, 118, 194, 200, 221
Statistics, 253 sqq, 258 sqq
Stephano Porcaro, 59
Stacker, Pastor, 249, 251, 307
Strasburg, 34
Strauss, 291
Sturm, 43
Sue, Eugene, 323
Sweden, 25, 99, 101, 207, 262, 309
Switzerland, 99, 191, 262, 317
Syrlin-the-Elder, 27
Theatins, 158, 177
Thelema, 15
Theodore Gaza, 19
Theresa, Saint, 159, 167, 170
Thomas Aquinas, Saint, 14, 57, 76
Voltaire, 20, 131, 224, 229
Voragine, Jacques de, 271
Waldensbs, 125, 127
Wangeman, 249
Warham, Archbishop, 67
Washington, 231
Waterloo, 142
Weller, Jerome, 273
Wellhausen, 292
Wessel, John, 296
Westerces, Diet of, 102
William III., 301
Wimpheling, 31, 32, 33, 34
Wizel, George, 234, 275
Wolf, 282, 290
Wolsey, 67
Worms, Diet of, 26
Worms, 66
Wycliff, 84, 100
Xavier, Saint Francis, 181
Yves Guyot, 323
Zasius, Ulrich, 240, 270
Zermatt, 321
Zurich, 105
Zwingli, 105, 108, 229, 324
Thureau-Dangin, 23, 267
Tregian, Mr, 211, 212
Trent, Council of, 112, 15s, 163, 175,
Trithemus, 33, 34
Tubingen, 291
Turks, 85, 239, 242
Tyburn, 210
Upsala, Diet of, 207
Ulm, 27
Ulrich von Hutten, 66, 93
Valais, 321 sq
Valdis, Fernando, 196
Vaso, 101, 112
Vasquez de Molina, 194, 196
Vatable, 48
Vatican, 57, 205
Venice, 63, 68
Vergerio, 54, 55
Vienna, 35, 239
Villeroi, 145
Villers, Charles, 221 sq, 225, 274
Vincent de Paul, Saint, 165, 179, 322
Vinci, Leonardo da, 9
Virgil, 33
Vischer, 27
Viscontis, 5
,, Barnabo, 6
,, Giovanni Maria, 6
Vittorino da Feltre, II, 33
Vires, 43
Voight, 54, 56

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